Archive for the ‘Mary Ellen’s Meanderings’ Category

International Noise Awareness Day

Thursday, April 30th, 2015

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Today is International Noise Awareness Day (INAD). INAD is a global campaign aiming to raise awareness of noise on the welfare and health of people. Noise affects people in many ways, but only deafness and annoyance receive actual interest from the general public. People all over the world are called upon to take part via various actions on this occasion: open days on hearing from acousticians, lectures in public health departments, universities and schools, panels of experts, noise level measuring actions, and readings.

In that spirit, the Center for Hearing and Communication offers this Recipe for a Quiet Day:

Recipe for a Quiet Day

Take these few, simple steps to preserve the peace and quiet in your life.

  • Pay attention to the noises you make and respect your neighbor’s right to peace and quiet.
  • Turn down the volume two notches on your radios and personal stereo systems with headphones.
  • Turn down the volume one notch on your television.
  • Do NOT honk your horn, except in the case of imminent danger; Do NOT tip cab drivers who honk their horns illegally.
  • Avoid noisy sports events, restaurants, rock concerts and nightclubs unless you use hearing protection.
  • Replace noisy activities with quiet ones such as taking a walk, visits to libraries and museums.
  • Ask your health club instructor to lower the music.
  • Ask the movie theater manager to turn down the volume.
  • Wear adequate hearing protection if you must be in a noisy environment (the subway, mowing the lawn)
  • Turn off the television during dinner and have a quiet conversation instead.
  • Get a free hearing screening.
  • Attend a town meeting to review (or develop) a local, enforceable noise ordinance.
  • Spread the word about the danger of noise.

And remember… observe one minute of no noise from 2:15 – 2:16 pm (regardless of location/time zone). – See more here.

Here are two things I recommend: (1) Take this Online hearing test, and (2) Tell your kids to turn down their iPhones!

Have a quiet day.

On being a women-owned business…

Monday, April 6th, 2015

By Mary Ellen Eagan


Over the past several months, as we’ve negotiated and finalized the internal sale of HMMH, I’ve had a lot of time to think about what it means (or might mean) to be a women-owned business (I’ve also spent a lot of time learning all the designations and abbreviations: WBE, WOSB, EDWOSB, etc. For simplicity, let’s just go with WBE). On a surface level, there should be no difference – after all, I’ve been president for more than 10 years, and Diana has been COO for two. And yet, I think it will make a difference for HMMH and for me.  Here’s why.

First, many people already assume we are a WBE – but now, we can even better serve our clients by helping them meet W/DBE contract goals.  I just spent the day at the City of Chicago Department of Aviation’s W/M/DBE workshop, and was stunned to learn that the CDA achieved a 39% W/M/DBE goal last year.  We hear from firms all the time that it’s hard to find “quality” DBE firms – I’m confident that our 34-year history of excellence will help in some small way to change that perception.

Second, it has forced me to think about what it means for men at HMMH – I’ve thought a lot about the trust and confidence displayed by the men who sold their stake in the company to Diana and me, but even more about the future of current and emerging male leaders within our firm who are also significant owners and contributors.  We may be unique among WBE firms to have so many talented men in leadership positions – I think that makes our firm rich.

Finally, it has brought back some of my inner feminist.  I was recently encouraged by a close friend (an enlightened male) to read Wonder Women: Sex, Power, and the Quest for Perfection, an examination of how women’s lives have, and have not, changed over the past forty years.  It made me realize how lucky I am to have been born when I was and how grateful I am to have been able to make the choices I’ve made (I am a contemporary of the author).  If my mother had not been an unsatisfied “housewife” at the height of the Gloria-Steinem-bra-burning-days, she might not have been the Tiger Mother who insisted I study something (anything) other than teaching or nursing in college.  I hated engineering (and my grades proved it – HMMH would never hire me today!), yet somehow I never lost the sense that I needed to forge my own path.  If I’d been a little older, many of those paths would have been closed to me (as it was, I have my share of horror stories – like the time the professor told my entire class to ‘Let the Lady Engineer show us how to do it’); if I’d been a little younger, it might not have been so important for me to prove myself (I look at my niece – who’s about to graduate from WPI as a biomedical engineer – and suspect gender is not an issue for her, except that the boys can’t keep up).  The challenge that remains – for women and men alike these days – is that of making choices.  We can do anything, but we can’t do everything.  When folks ask me how I ‘do it all’ (and by that, I assume they mean CEO, parent, wife, friend, volunteer), my stock answer is that I don’t do any of it well (and by that, I mean that I’ve had to accept the fact that I’m not perfect at anything).  But I get a lot done.

This quote from Wonder Women sums it up for me:

“Women should seek empowerment in their lives, but not control. They should be empowered to use their bodies as they desire; empowered to make the choices they prefer; empowered to seek happiness wherever they may find it. But control, like that ephemeral “all” again, is an illusion. Because in the end, the only thing you can really control is your thighs. And they just don’t matter that much.”

Amen, sister.


RIP Mayor Menino

Tuesday, November 4th, 2014

by Mary Ellen Eagan

Tom Menino

Tom Menino, 1942-2014

I first met Tom Menino when he was running for Mayor of Boston in 1993. My father (a born-again Democrat) was a precinct captain in Dorchester, and invited me to a house party/meet the candidate event on someone’s roof deck. Now, Dorchester is an Irish-American stronghold, and Menino was Italian-American (and there were 4 Irish candidates in the field). On top of that, I could barely hear or understand a word he said (his nickname was “Mumbles”). I didn’t think he had a chance. Boy, was I wrong.

The next time I saw him was at my father’s funeral in 1997. By that time, my father had lost his job and most of his friends to alcoholism. But the Mayor sat discreetly in the back of the mostly empty church, and left a card telling us kids that he was a good guy and we should be proud of him.

He had a reputation of being everywhere – in every parade, but also at neighborhood meetings, checking on roads and trash pickups. I saw him on the street, at meetings, at the airport. And he was all about making the City work. He was proud to sing The Pothole Blues.

The last time I saw Mr. Menino was last summer. He was doing a victory tour of the City, picking up awards and recognition from every group in town – this one the Energy Award for Government Service from the Environmental Business Council of New England. He could barely walk, and spoke for only a few minutes, but got a lengthy standing ovation.

For someone who never graduated from college, and whom many (including your truly) thought unfit for the job, he left quite a legacy – especially in the areas of environment and transportation. He demonstrated that leadership has many styles. Sometimes it’s about getting stuff done.



Friday, October 17th, 2014

By Mary Ellen Eagan

I just passed a milestone – 30 years at HMMH!

Mary Ellen Eagan and John Putnam

Mary Ellen Eagan and John Putnam

We mark those milestones by making contributions to a non-profit of the 30-year employee’s choosing. I’m proud to report that I was able to hand deliver a check today to John Putnam, co-founder of Partners for Rural Improvement and Development in Ethiopia (PRIDE).

PRIDE is dedicated to improving the living conditions and quality of life in the rural highlands of Ethiopia. Founded by a group of volunteers in Boulder, Colorado, PRIDE promotes positive change in some of the poorest Ethiopian villages. PRIDE helps lay the foundation for sustainable development by focusing on improvements in education, clean water, and agriculture. PRIDE focuses its efforts on those areas with the greatest likelihood of breaking cycles of poverty.


John Putnam is a partner at Kaplan Kirsch & Rockwell and a dear colleague. I am constantly amazed by his dedication to PRIDE, and eagerly await stories of his adventures in Ethiopia. He tells me that this contribution will likely support development of a new school which has just broken ground.

Department of Defense Patriot Award

Thursday, September 25th, 2014

by Mary Ellen Eagan

I was completely stunned this afternoon at our weekly Thursday staff meeting to have a special guest speaker from the Department of Defense’s Employer Support of the Guard and Reserve, who presented me with a Patriot Award, which recognizes “the efforts made to support Citizen Warriors through a wide-range of measures including flexible schedules, time off prior to and after deployment, caring for families, and granting leaves of absence, if needed.”

The nomination was made by Kurt Hellauer, who returned early this summer from a 10-month deployment to the Middle East. Hopefully, he’ll blog about his experiences at some point, but for now, I am just happy to report that he is back safe and sound and fully engaged in our practice again. Welcome home, Kurt, and thanks again for your service!