Grace & Gratitude | Taralyn Kohler

Grace and gratitude are rooted deeply in Brenda Blisk’s past. She grew up humbly in rural Tennessee on a dairy farm, and her family’s motto was “if we don’t grow it, we don’t eat it.” Chores were a natural part of daily life and your responsibility as being part of a family is a blessing. Being resourceful was taught from your mother’s knee. Repurposing or recycling included sewing and making your own dresses which were often made from the beautiful cotton flour sack of prints.

Brenda, the oldest of 6 children, tragically lost her mother at an early age to colon cancer, and her mother died within a year and a half of diagnosis at 52. Brenda found comfort within her church community. The unconditional support she received encouraged self-discovery through prayer, which would shape her values, and unearth her future goals. Her calling to pursue a career, where she could serve other women in their most troubled times was revealed. As result, Brenda was motivated to start her practice, Blisk Financial Group.

Brenda says, having now assisted women and their families for over 30 years, the most satisfaction comes from coaching women though the highs and lows of their lives.

Helping them navigate financial hardships like the loss of a spouse or divorce. “During these challenging times,” Brenda explained, “women are vulnerable, emotionally broken, and at risk. Yet, they are being asked, and expected to make some of the most important decisions which will impact them and their children for the rest of their lives.” Brenda’s greatest joy is in seeing her clients enjoy their financial success. She celebrates with her clients as they put their children through college, early retirement and welcome grandchildren into their families. It’s no surprise that Brenda’s philosophy on raising children mirrors her faith- based values. She believes through hardship, God has always had a plan for her. Surviving breast cancer at 32 was a surprise and certainly made me focus on the important things in life.

Brenda and her husband, David, had been waiting for some time to adopt as David was in the military. Brenda explained military families at that time tended not to be selected for adoption since they re-located frequently. Laura Marie’s birth mother requested she be placed with a family of Christian faith, and Brenda believe this is why they were chosen. It was a miracle!

Brenda also has welcomed into her home two other relatives, teens from broken homes for which she became a role model and second mom. She wanted to show them there is a better way of life and help teach them to make better life choices.

Today, Brenda is grateful to have the opportunity to continue to give back to women who are starting out in their careers, and has made it a priority to incorporate the mentoring of young women into her practice. She cites that these opportunities were absent for women when she first started in business. Brenda is often asked to speak to young women in organizations like the University of Maryland’s Susan Smith School of Business and University of Virginia School of Business.

Brenda is also at the circle of women leaders of the American Red Cross – she is a member of the women’s leadership group the Tiffany Circle. She also authored her own fundraiser seven years ago, “In The Bag: Purses for Preparedness” which features a luncheon and designer handbag auction each November. With help from her powerful team of fifty female business owner volunteers, “In The Bag” has raised $750,000 over the past six years which funds vital services benefitting the American Red Cross National Capital Region. Brenda hosts this event graciously with a commanding presence, and it’s no surprise that she was selected by Virginia’s Lawyer’s Weekly as one of the “Most Influential Women of Virginia,” or by Barron’s Magazine as one of the Top Financial Advisors in America.

Interviewing Brenda for this story was a gift. I am appreciative and thankful for the experience to be inspired by such an exceptional woman.By Taralyn Kohler

By Taralyn Kohler

 

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