2015 Honoree

Rena Hozore Reiss

Executive VP, General Counsel, Hyatt Hotels Corporation

“Women should market themselves the same way men do…it is important to recognize and celebrate your own talents…none of us get to where we are on our own.”

Who inspires you the most?

My mom. She was widowed at 43, just as she returned to law school. My mom, who had worked part-time while my sister and I were growing up, was then a full-time law student with two high school age daughters. She went on to have an amazing second career as a lawyer, but more importantly, was a steadfast support and best booster to my sister and I, our husbands, and our kids. She is fiercely independent, smart, and resilient. And, she always says nice things about her daughters, sons-in-law, and grandchildren.

What do you now know about yourself that you wish you knew ten/fifteen/twenty years ago?

You can try really hard to be perfect, but it won’t work. And it won’t matter.

Fill in the blank: You can never have enough _______.

Things to smile about.

What city best describes your personality?

New York: vibrant, great food, great theater, museums, sharp wit. The best bagels. And kick-ass attitude. [We were asked not to say NY during the videotaping, so my alternative was Tel Aviv: a relatively new city in an old land, with a vibrant food and cultural scene; rediscovering and restoring its Bauhaus district; and beautiful Mediterranean beaches.]

What gets you through even the toughest days and what are you most grateful for?

My husband and kids.

What socio-political women’s issue do you care about the most? Do you feel that women are typically presented fairly in the media? Why or why not?

Equal opportunity to achieve…and to fall short. Really hard question to answer, as the media is not at all monolithic. Let’s just say some media are “more fair” than others.

Although there is supposed to be a separation between Church & State, religion still seems to govern many political decisions regarding women–abortions, birth control, etc. –usually from men. What is the best approach to shift power over women’s bodies to women?

Recognize a zone of privacy regarding women’s health issues. Majority of women do not take these decisions lightly. For example, the decision to have an abortion is deeply personal, often wrenching. The government should not intrude, and certainly someone else (such as presidential candidates or members of Congress) should not tell women what to do. I respect their opinion, and they should be free to act or not act in their own personal lives, but I don’t need them moralizing about what is right for me.

What is your best read? Favorite character you would most like to be?

Any piece of terrific fiction. Recent great reads were “Life After Life” and “Some Luck.” But, also a great piece of non-fiction–like “the Boys in the Boat.” Favorite character: Abigail Adams. But, if I could sing like Idina Menzel in “Wicked,” I’d take it.

What will it take for women to be viewed as equal to men? Are sexist jokes problematic, and how do you feel about people’s view that women should just “lighten up” about them?

Long arc of history. It will happen, and it will be helpful if we stop talking about things like work-life balance as a woman’s issue and start talking about these matters as people issues. Sexist jokes are problematic if they are mean and intended to demean. But, I do think sometimes it is important to be able to ignore asinine remarks and not take everything to heart.

What was your best decision to date? Worst decision?

Best Decision: Fortunately, I’ve made many, from choosing where I went to school, to who I married, to staying in the workforce as I was raising my kids (even though it didn’t seem like a great decision on certain days).

Worst Decision: We all make bad decisions–we’re human–but thankfully nothing that has had irreversible consequences.

Within the past few years, social media has exploded. How can women use it to market themselves without seeming narcissistic?

Women should market themselves the same way men do–I’m not sure you can do it as any gender without tooting your own horn a bit. It is important to recognize and celebrate your own talents, while giving credit to those who helped you along the way. None of us get to where we are on our own.

Write a fortune you’d like for all women to receive in a fortune cookie.

May health, contentment, joy and prosperity infuse every day of your life.

If you were a superhero, what would your superpower be?

Teleport myself so I could visit friends and family quickly and more often!