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Donika Schnell: Four Tips for Success for Single Mothers

Donika Schnell, Managing Director at Greystone & Co for healthcare, provides four tips for success for single mothers.

Donika Schnell is a mother of three and a successful businesswoman. She has been divorced since her children were young, but she has never let that stop her from achieving her goals. She is the daughter of Albanian parents who fled the communist regime in their homeland in the early 1950s. Donika was born in America and raised in a traditional Albanian household for Chicago.

She is now the Managing Director at Greystone & Co for healthcare. She provides meaningful, complete debt solutions to skilled nursing and seniors housing, including bridge loans, permanent HUD or Agency financing, mezzanine, and other creative debt products.

Donika is a strong advocate for single mothers. She knows how difficult it can be to raise children on your own, but she also knows it is possible to succeed. She believes there are four things that all single mothers need to do to be successful: get an education, be driven and passionate, be coachable, and form a personal advisory group.

Get an Education:

Donika knows that getting an education is the key to success for any single mother. She has a degree in accounting and communications and has used her education to climb the corporate ladder. As a firm believer in the importance of education, she has made sure that her children have had the opportunity to attend private school to increase their chances of success and also because the private school community provided a consistent, supportive environment for them surrounded by loving teachers and administrators .

“When I was little,” she said, “my father constantly talked about how lucky we are to live in a country with the freedoms we have, that if you have a dream, you can make it happen. And you can do that in this country. So, he was committed to an education for me and my sister.”

Be Driven and Passionate:

Donika says she is a very driven and passionate person. When she sets her mind to something, she goes after it with everything she has. This has served her well in her career in healthcare, where she has succeeded in a male-dominated industry.

“I like to think I have a strong constitution, that I can do almost anything and everything,” she said, explaining that despite the challenges of being a single mother and coming from an immigrant family, she has never let anything stand in her way.

“I never let any of those hold me back…I always behaved as an equal to anybody at the table with me,” she added.

Be Coachable:

One thing that helped Donika succeed is her willingness to be coached by others. When she started her career, she had a mentor who taught her the ropes and showed her how to be successful. Even now, she continues to seek advice from her peers.

“I find myself in situations where I’ve been around really smart people that I can learn from, and strive to be more like them, and they were all kind. They treated everybody the same way with respect.  I’ve been so very fortunate to have amazing mentors in my life” she said.

Form a Personal Advisory Group:

Another piece of advice Donika has for single mothers is to form a personal advisory group. This group of people can offer you support, advice, and help when you need it. For Donika, this group includes her family, friends, and colleagues, including both women and men.

“Build a personal advisory group if you need support or you need advice,” she said. “There are others out there, and they don’t have to be women to support women. I’ve had fantastic male mentors. Men who have helped me be better by either leading or giving me advice.”

Donika would like to add that for any single mother, your future is yours to make.   Stay focused on your children and yourself.   She married a wonderful man 8 years after her divorce who is supportive and an equal partner in life.

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