Super-Women 2022
Leading women carve their paths through strength, compassion, and inventiveness.
by Bill Donahue and Leigh Stuart

Payton Ridenour grew up with the same dream most people have—“to be the best I can be” at something. Ridenour’s something is BMX (bicycle motocross), a punishing sport that requires of its participants a balance of skill, strength, and focus, as well as ample stores of nerve and toughness. Her career as a professional rider has taken her across the country and around the world, including a 2021 trip to Tokyo for the Olympic Games.

Already in an elite class of athletes, she believes her best is her to come.
Ridenour has devoted her young life to BMX. She started riding at an early age, having been introduced to the sport by her father.
“My dad used to race when he was younger, on an amateur level,” says Ridenour, a 2020 graduate of Owen J. Roberts High School. “He took me to the BMX track when I was five; it was always something my dad and I did together. We connect a lot [through BMX], and we still ride together.”
Father and daughter even built a small track—roughly 700 feet—on their two-acre property in Pottstown. They refined the track over the course of decade, sometimes spending five or six hours a day shaping it, making it better.
“With winters in Pennsylvania the way they are, everything closes down, so having the track in my backyard allowed me to ride way longer,” Ridenour says. “Not a lot of people have a track in their backyard. It helped me be a better rider and work harder.”
Ridenour and her bike—she rides for Mongoose—have traveled far and wide in pursuit of her passion. Her trophy case abounds with awards from her junior and professional careers, and she has visited more countries in her 20 years than most will see in a lifetime: Australia, Belgium, Colombia, Japan, the Netherlands, Portugal, and Switzerland, among others.
She was six years old when BMX became an Olympic sport. The hazy dream of one day becoming an Olympian began to clarify in 2012 while watching the U.S. Olympic Trials. She then focused on making the Olympic team in 2020, which she admits was “a little far-fetched” considering her age.
“You’re not allowed to turn pro in the U.S. until you’re 19, so I still had to race amateur here,” she says. “I went to do two different world cups in 2019-2020, but I didn’t make any finals. Then COVID hit, which was the best thing that could have happened for me in terms of making the Olympic team, because it gave me more time to prepare. I had a lot of downtime, so I did so much training.”
When BMX events resumed after the pandemic pause, Ridenour ascended the ranks, though the window of opportunity to earn a spot on Team USA was closing rapidly. She earned her spot in May 2021 at an event in Bogota, Colombia.  
“After I qualified, I only had two months until I had to leave for Tokyo, and I trained with my coach up until then to prepare for the Games,” she says. “It was a really cool experience. My favorite part was seeing the Olympic Village and just being able to say you were in the Olympics. I hope to go back in 2024. That’s my next big goal.”
It also explains her current residence. Pottstown will always be Ridenour’s hometown, but she and her family recently relocated to Tulsa, Oklahoma, home of the USA BMX complex, which includes Hardesty National BMX Stadium. “Everything I need is here,” she says. “I’m going to make the most of it and use this opportunity to take it as far as I can.”
She spends hours each day in training, both on and off the track. Just about the only time she spends away from her bike is when she’s sleeping.
“Everything I do revolves around my bike,” she adds. “Even when I’m not training, I’m usually on my bike, just riding. I’m attached to my bike.”
Ridenour is grateful for her parents—Karen and Keith Ridenour—and the sacrifices they have made to help her chase her dream. During a recent phone interview, she also cited several others who have shown her so much love and support: Arielle Martin-Verhaaren, her coach; her “crew from PA,” Scott Mechler, Jay Bertles, and Evan Eisenhard; and Rocket, her dog, an illustrated version of whom stars on each page of the children’s book Ridenour wrote, A to Z: BMX Style.
“I really just want to be someone people can look up to and be a good role model for other people,” she says. “I want to get results, and I also want to be a pro that’s approachable if anyone asks a question or wants an autograph. Outside of racing, I try to be a charismatic person and like to help people out at the track. I just want to be a good person, a nice person.” —Bill Donahue

Felicia L. Ganther, J.D., Ph.D.
‘We have a lot of students to serve.’
Dr. Felicia L. Ganther has accomplished amazing things since taking the helm as president of Bucks County Community College (BCCC) in July of last year.
“The culmination of 25 years in higher education has prepared me for this job,” Dr. Ganther says. “I am not only well-versed in student affairs, but I’ve taught at community college, undergraduate, university, graduate, law school, so I’ve had faculty experience as well.”
Dr. Ganther comes to BCCC from Maricopa Community Colleges, where she served roughly 250,000 students annually in the metro Phoenix area as associate vice chancellor for student affairs/chief student affairs officer. In that role, she not only helped students from 10 colleges with everything from admission to registering for classes and financial aid to academic advising and student support, but also worked within the community to form the kind of meaningful partnerships she is now forging at BCCC.
“What excites me about Bucks is that I’m very familiar with the territory,” she says. “When I was in Illinois, I worked for the community college that was a suburb of the city of Chicago, and there are blessings and curses in that. You’re in the suburbs, and oftentimes people think that there’s a high level of affluency so folks don’t need help.
“The other downside,” she continues, “is that oftentimes people look to the city and focus their energy and efforts on what’s happening in the city, and are not particularly paying attention to the students that are in need or in crisis or need help in the bordering communities, so I’m familiar with that. I saw that there is great potential here. We have a lot of students to serve.”
Serve the students, she has. Within her first year, Dr. Ganther led BCCC through reaccreditation, secured the highest amount of donations received by the College Foundation in the history of the college, and instituted a DEI Advisory Board to improve relations with communities of color.
“I believe that if you raise the water for all boats, everybody’s going to float,” she says. “We know that our African-American and our Latino populations in Bucks County are not doing well. Our South Asian populations are not doing well in this district. You can look at the state of Pennsylvania, K through 12, they’re not going to college as their white counterparts are. Oftentimes they might be experiencing some type of financial or socioeconomic strife, so it’s important for us to make sure that we look at how we develop our programs to ensure that there are equitable outcomes for all. That means we have to create a sense of belonging first.”
In addition to focusing on building community and equity, Dr. Ganther closed the $7.5 million budget deficit that greeted her at the start of her time at BCCC. “We closed that without laying off any individuals,” she notes. “I’m very proud of that.”
Coming out of the pandemic, she sees an opportunity for community colleges such as hers—to reinvent themselves, and to determine how they can remain relevant in the crowded higher-education landscape.
“For many years, we didn’t have to worry about competition because universities had high admissions standards, so for many students who wanted to go to various universities, they come and start with us and transfer on,” she says. “Or folks want to get immediately into the work force, and state universities and state colleges were not in the workforce-development area. Now they are, so the community colleges are being, really, pushed out of the landscape where they traditionally have been.”
An appreciation for students’ desires for jobs that will afford them financial stability is at the heart of much of Dr. Ganther’s work for BCCC.
“How do we help folks understand that there are opportunities through the community college to help them to find the living wage and the American Dream that they’re searching for?” she asks. “That means we as community colleges have to really focus in on asking, ‘Are our certificates, our degrees, going to help people get jobs? And are we working with those employers to make sure that we are aptly preparing those students to be ready to be interviewed and to be selected for those positions?’ I think that is the opportunity, and that is the opportunity for Bucks. We have an opportunity to be very relevant in this area, and I look forward to helping us move in that direction.” —Leigh Stuart

Stephanie L. Kosta
‘To whom much is given, much is expected.’
A proud product of Delaware County, Stephanie L. Kosta approaches every day with a smile on her face, a fire in her belly, and a singular goal in mind: to do the most good.
“All my life, I was taught that to whom much is given, much is expected,” says Kosta, who was born and raised in the Delco borough of Morton. “I was born with great parents, had a great family, and got a great education. I am supposed to give back.”
She has the opportunity to do so on a daily basis, as the vice president of government and regulatory affairs and community impact for Comcast’s Freedom Region, which includes the Philadelphia area, New Jersey, and parts of Delaware. She finds the job incredibly rewarding, with most of her days informed by her previous work as an attorney. Prior to joining Comcast, she was a partner at Duane Morris LLP, where her responsibilities included providing counsel and government-relations assistance to Fortune 500 firms and government entities.
“There’s a winner and a loser in law,” she says. “With what I’m doing now, it’s more about how the community can win and have Comcast support it. We don’t want any losers ever; it’s about working toward a common goal.”
For example, Kosta negotiated Comcast’s role in PHL Connected, a partnership between the City of Philadelphia, the School District of Philadelphia, and business and civic leaders that sprouted in the wake of COVID-19. The partnership’s goal: to connect thousands of public school students (kindergarten through grade 12) with no-cost internet. She describes her work on PHL Connected as “one of the greatest accomplishments of my life” because of how positively it affected so many households. She also cites the impact of Comcast RISE (Representation, Investment, Strength, Empowerment), an initiative to provide grants, technology services, and other resources with minority- and women-owned businesses.
“I do have challenging days, but I don’t have bad days,” she says. “I get to do good every day.”
In addition to her work with Comcast, Kosta volunteers with local charities and sits on the boards of several nonprofits, including the African American Museum of Philadelphia, the Girl Scouts of Eastern Pennsylvania, and Philadelphia Works. She previously served on the Delaware County tourism board, which she loved because it helped shine a spotlight on the part of the world that raised her.
“I love Delco,” she says. “It has a hometown feel, and its people have the belief in their blue-collar roots and always striving for the next step. They value hard work, and they also like to play.”
Above all, Kosta values spending time with her family, including her two kids, ages 13 and 16, which she describes as “my life, what I do all of this for.” She also enjoys hiking, finding “hidden gems” of historical significance in Delco and surrounding areas, and pursuing two other long-held passions: singing and tennis.
“I believe you have to take big bites out of life,” she says. “I’m going to say yes and do the next thing. That’s the way [to guarantee] that life is fun and exciting.” —Bill Donahue

LynAnn Mastaj, D.M.D.
‘You have to enjoy helping people.’
Dr. LynAnn Mastaj is truly one of a kind.
In her professional career, as the leader of Mastaj Orthodontics in Bryn Mawr, Dr. Mastaj finds joy in creating healthy, beautiful smiles for patients of all ages. Education is essential to her work, not only teaching the patients sitting in her chair but also educating the next generation of orthodontics; she provides continuing education to clinicians in various areas of specialty, and previously shared the wisdom of her experience through her work with the University of Pennsylvania Faculty Practice.
“To succeed in this work, you have to enjoy helping people, and I certainly do,” she says. “I’ve been a mentor to many students and assistants who have gone on to dental school.”
In her personal life, she’s a wife and a mother, as well as a world traveler, an oenophile (connoisseur of wine), and a “phenomenal cook” with some culinary training. She’s also a frequent visitor to area hiking trails—the Pinnacle in Hamburg and Mount Tammany on the east side of the Delaware Water Gap—and has scaled the peaks of some of the world’s most challenging mountains, including Mount Fuji in Honshu, Japan; Mount Kilimanjaro in Tanzania, Africa; and, a bit closer to home, Mount Washington in New Hampshire. Although she has always been athletic, dating back to her days as an elite tennis player, she credits her desire to climb to Chris Waddell, a former Paralympian who became the first paraplegic to summit Kilimanjaro.
“I have loved the outdoors and being close to nature all my life,” says Dr. Mastaj. “I have met [Waddell] several times, and he inspired me to get out there and conquer mountains. There’s something so satisfying about reaching the top, being so close to nature. You don’t have to go far from where we live to find some beautiful hiking trails and peaks, but I’ve loved hiking in the Presidential Range, in Colorado, and traveling to other places throughout the country.”
Dr. Mastaj has prioritized making a difference in the lives of others throughout her career. In years past, she has supported causes devoted to creating academic and enrichment opportunities for students from lower-income families. More recently, she has championed literacy for children and adults.
“Years ago, every kid who came into our office had a book in their hand,” says Dr. Mastaj, whose counts the late C.S. Lewis among her favorite authors. “Then kids started coming in with their Game Boys, and you didn’t see anyone reading anymore. We can’t lose that. People of all ages can gain so much from reading, so I’ve made promoting literacy a big part of what we do here.”
For example, she leads efforts to raise money and donate books to organizations such as Mighty Writers, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit that every year teaches thousands of local children how to think clearly and write with clarity as a pathway to success. Also, about this time of year, she and her staff transform the Bryn Mawr office into a celebration of the magical universe created by another of her favorite authors, J.K. Rowling.
“I’m a huge Harry Potter fan,” she says, adding that she has been unofficially sorted into Gryffindor House. “We dress up in character. We give away books. We do these amazing vignettes of scenes from the books and the movies; we even made a Whomping Willow..”
Whether she is prompting a child to pick up a book or giving an adult a life-changing smile, Dr. Mastaj appreciates the transformative nature of her practice.

“I love getting to know my patients and having them get to know me as a real person,” she says. “I love making these relationships with people. I love going to work every day.” —Bill Donahue

Ashara Shapiro
‘This is my bravest moment.’
Ashara Shapiro is a beautiful soul. Kind to speak with and keen to share her appreciation of all forms of art, she is a creative force in Bucks County and beyond. With her newest venture ArtWRKD, an arts consortium in Newtown, Shapiro has created an inviting space where wearable, visual, and functional artists can explore their creativity in a supportive atmosphere.
“This new ArtWRKD space has been essentially a dream of mine for many years—about 14 years, around the time my kids were born,” she says. “Early on, when my kids were younger and I was a new mom, I was focused on my children being offered a space for expression. Now that my kids are teens, one of the pieces of this new space is to be able to offer the teen population a place of expression, and the adult population as well.
“This space is not only to support artists and give them a place to show their work, but to try to create ‘spiderwebs’ for them getting to know each other, what other artists are doing, and what is informing their work,” she continues. “This is a place of solace for people to come in and create.”
The space itself, at 126 South State Street, is the former home of the Newtown Enterprise newspaper. Shapiro hopes to carry on the tradition of creativity that lives within the historic building’s walls.
“This is different than a gallery space,” she says. “Sometimes there can be a sterility to that. This is very experiential. I’ve hand-picked all the artists. I understand what makes them tick, their process, and what’s important to them, so I can also speak about them.
“Sometimes as an artist,” she continues, “it’s hard to speak about your work because there’s a vulnerability to that because it comes from a very honest place. There’s a strength for them in having somebody else be their cheerleader. This is why I love this.”
Shapiro herself utilizes the ArtWRKD space actively while creating for A.Recherche, her line of wearable art.

“I’ve always dabbled in any and every avenue of expression, from painting to woodworking to theater,” she says. “In all the different avenues of my creative life, there has always been an underlying love of fashion.”
In addition to crafting eye-catching cuffs, bags, accessories and more, Shapiro works with reclaimed designs featuring “little bits and pieces not being used in the larger world,” such as machine tags and vintage rulers. For Shapiro, breathing new life into such objects brings history and modernity together.
“Essentially what I’m doing with repurposed things is finding and reinventing so they can have life in a new way,” Shapiro shares. “There are a lot of older things that are really beautiful, down to the font used on a ruler or a numerical scale—some things that were very ornate but used every day. Now, everyday things are more consumption-based with less design creativity.
“Honoring that creative piece and that design work and making new work goes to my love of history, and is a commentary on society now versus where we were before,” she continues. “I’m interested in that change and what we’re moving towards. I try to let my work be a reminder of where we came from because that informs where we’re going.”
Shapiro’s love for history, community, and the arts extends to her involvement in endeavors such as Market Day, Newtown’s artisan festival of history and art, which she chairs.
“Before my mom passed, she said to be as brave as I can be in life,” Shapiro shares. “Those were her parting words—no pressure. I asked, ‘What is my bravest self and what does that look like?’ I thought hard about it, and my bravest place is to try to have my dream come alive. This is my bravest moment, you could say, opening this.”
ArtWRKD has many events on the horizon, the first of which will be in April 2023 in the historic Newtown Theatre. The event will feature wearable art, as well as work by artists of other genres, including graffiti. —Leigh Stuart

Out in Front
These leading women make a lasting impression at home, at work, and in their communities.
Kate Coleman
Fitness-focused founder of Raw Replenish, with locations in Pennsburg and Souderton—and, thanks to franchising, more to come—promoting overall wellness through medicinal foods.
Dr. Janine Darby
Dual-board-certified physician who leads a wellness and weight-loss-centered practice, Lifestyle Changes LLC, devoted to creating a stronger, healthier, and more diverse community.
Stephanie Ellis
Main Line Realtor with COMPASS, devoted to helping people find their forever homes; also an accomplished athlete and runner now preparing for an upcoming marathon (her eighth) in Philly, in which she will serve as a guide for a blind runner.
Dr. Kellyn Hodges
Founder of Kellyn Hodges Orthodontics, which has three offices in suburban Philadelphia, committed to transforming patients’ lives by delivering “Hollywood smiles” with care and compassion.
Nicole Malcolm
A diverse background in real estate and the mortgage industry led Malcolm to become owner and title agent of a Bucks County-based team of #rockstarclosers.
Sheryl R. Rentz
Main Line family law attorney known as a steadying influence for clients going through the trauma of separation and divorce, and helping them move forward—legally, financially, emotionally, etc.
Victoria Rappaport
Seasoned business leader with 25 years of wisdom and experience, now leading the holistic team at Newtown’s La Maison House of Aesthetics, which she serves as spa director.
Jill B. Steinberg
Skilled financial advisor and leader at Beacon Pointe Advisors; mentor of other women in a traditionally male-dominated field; co-founder of the Live Like Blaine Foundation, in honor of her late daughter, a nonprofit designed to create opportunities for young female athletes.
Dr. Joyce Varughese
Board-certified, fellowship-trained gynecologic oncology surgeon with Capital Health who makes a difference close to home and much farther afield; her work with the International Gynecologic Cancer Society has saved lives as far away as Africa and Vietnam.
Jeane M. Vidoni
President and CEO of Penn Community Bank, a Bucks County-based banking institution with a reputation for helping families, businesses, and communities thrive.
Beverly Weaver and Beth Ann White
Principals in 1859 Wellness Spa & Salon, a distinctive spot in Manayunk where clients can “recharge, rebalance, and experience healing in mind, body, and spirit.”
Photo courtesy of Fifteen BMX
Published (and copyrighted) in Suburban Life, September 2022.