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‘Twenty Won,’ An Anthology By Female Writers Sharing Stories Of Resilience, Launches April 21

Tawnya Panizzi The Tribune-Review, Greensburg

WWR Article Summary (tl;dr) Author Kelli Komondor says she wrote her book "Twenty Won: an anthology of 21 female entrepreneurs sharing stories of business resilience during the 2020 global crisis" because she wanted to inspire women of all ages and in all situations to "go for it."


Weary from a year of pandemic-related isolation, a McKeesport-area woman transformed her anxiety into an inspirational book detailing the good that transpired from a global lockdown.

"Twenty Won: an anthology of 21 female entrepreneurs sharing stories of business resilience during the 2020 global crisis," will launch April 21.

It is the effort of Kelli Komondor, a Port Vue resident who said she wanted to inspire women of all ages and in all situations to "go for it."

"To take a situation that wasn't ideal, like being laid off due to the pandemic like I was, and make something good come from it, was the goal," Komondor said.

The book features advice from 21 women who did things their way and, on their terms, Komondor said.

Throughout the pages, the Pittsburgh region shines, with 19 contributing female authors/businesses owners headquartered across the region.

"Twenty Won" will be available for free digital download or paperback purchase on April 21 at, as well as through any of the 21 authors.

Allison Park's Merilee Smith is a life empowerment coach who said the most significant piece of wisdom she imparted is that thoughts and emotions are not to be underestimated.

"Your thoughts create your identity and what you believe about yourself," she said.

"They will either help you or significantly limit you in life. If you want to stay in the game, you must believe in who you are as an entrepreneur and in what you do with unwavering faith."

Smith's chapter, "Ditch Your Drama and Take Charge of Your Story," urges readers to get out of "Stucksville" and practice emotional agility.

"When you're aware of your thoughts and how they drive your emotions and decisions, you become the Jedi Master of your mind," she said.

"Knowing you have inner drama is one thing, but ditching it is another. Asking for help is a strength."

North Huntingdon resident Lori Ball wrote the chapter "It's All Through Faith and Gratitude" based on her fight against cancer.

"It's about learning to navigate uncharted waters," Ball said. "You need to create a plan and you need to create it quickly. The importance of believing in yourself when life challenges you creates a deep sense of peace and calm allowing you to take a deep breath, step back and think clearly."

Ball founded the nonprofit, Faith & Gratitude, with the mission to empower and educate cancer patients and to arm them with resources to strengthen their mind, body and spirit throughout their battle.

"After reading my chapter, I hope people will learn that even during extremely chaotic times, you are in control and that alone can be truly empowering," Ball said.

Accountant Li Connolly, who owns Connolly Steele and Company along Pittsburgh's Ohio River Boulevard, entitled her chapter "Leap of Faith."

The financier wrote about her 25-year journey as an entrepreneur, starting her firm after working several years in the auditing department of Touche Ross and as controller at the Longue Vue Club.

Building her company was Connolly's way of nurturing other business owners, and that took on new meaning with the obstacles of the pandemic.

It is her goal to prod aspiring business people to put themselves out there, she said.

Contributing author Maria Theresa Bernardo Brady is the curator of a newly launched inspirational gift line called I Chose Happy. Her mantra is to find the positive in everyday matters.

"I believe living a life based on gratitude, even in adversity, generates positive vibes which attract blessings," said Brady of North Huntingdon.

"Covid-19 caused a slower work flow for my agency in 2020, but afforded me the opportunity to launch my new line," she said. "My advice is that with adversity comes an opportunity to grow, so dig for the hidden opportunity."

Project lead and marketing manager Komondor said every chapter of the book details women who pivoted and persevered.

"This team of incredibly smart, dedicated ladies opened their hearts and minds to writing a chapter about their professional and personal lives," Komondor said.

"It has got to help many others who are unsure of their next step, unhappy in their career and debating their next move." ___ Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.

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