“Women belong in all places where decisions are being made.
… It shouldn’t be that women are the exception.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg

As we celebrate International Women’s Day 2021, we focus on the role women can play in ‘building back better’, thanks to their different skills and experience.

While women in Congress are at the highest percentage in U.S. history, they continue to remain woefully under-represented at all levels of decision-making worldwide. Just 7 percent of Fortune 500 CEOs are female, with only 7 women heading Fortune 100 companies.

We want to take this opportunity to highlight the professional challenges and inspirations of the women in leadership of one of the most prominent surrogacy and egg donation agencies in the US, Family Source Consultants. Our leadership team leads by example, having personal experience as surrogates, egg donors, and parents through surrogacy.

Combined, they possess a unique understanding of all that encompasses the significance of creating a family through reproductive medicine.

Staci Swiderski, CEO & President

surrogacy’s leading women

What led you to start a surrogacy agency?

My personal story and involvement in Third-party Reproduction began over 20 years ago when I knew that my family was not yet complete. My passion for family building and gestational surrogacy was heightened in 2000 when my husband and I began considering our options to have a child. I could not carry a pregnancy due to developing pre-cancerous cells that resulted in me requiring a partial hysterectomy in 1998. We chose to pursue surrogacy as our family-building option, and in 2005 we welcomed our son, who was carried by a lovely gestational surrogate in Illinois. My personal experience as an intended mother ultimately led me to open the doors to Family Source Consultants just two years later, in January of 2007. 

Besides my personal experience with gestational surrogacy, I also had the opportunity to help a loving couple build their family through my role as a known egg donor. My two donations resulted in their son’s birth, with a daughter to follow two years later.

My compassion for hopeful parents and those who desire to grow their family, as well as my appreciation for the strong women who make it possible, has motivated me to not only own a surrogacy and egg donation agency but to operate an agency that leads with professionalism, compassion, and robust personal experience.

surrogacy’s leading women

How have you gotten to where you are today in your leadership position?

I believe that communication skills are crucial; however, communication alone is not enough. Accountability is also vital, as it allows me to lead by example. It is all about people. As the CEO here at Family Source Consultants, I am not only responsible for the company’s success, but also for inspiring, coaching, mentoring, listening to, and motivating my team to become the very best versions of themselves. All of which influences them to put forth their best work. 

I am surrounded by amazing leaders within our agency and the entire ART field who are tremendously smart, inspiring, and have the utmost passion in their everyday roles. I have always felt that being a leader does not require a “title.” Having a managerial title does not automatically make one a leader; it requires commitment, communication, and lots of positive, contagious energy!

What woman inspires you and why?

I cannot think of just one single woman. I am inspired daily by those who never take no for an answer and have had to build something for themselves, who have broken barriers along the way. However, two “famous” women I greatly admire would be the Rockstar musician Pink, and the legendary author, J. K. Rowling. 

Pink’s no drama attitude is admirable from someone who never gave up, even from a troubled childhood. She does not tolerate injustice, inequality, racism, homophobia, or sexism. One thing Pink shared that has stuck with me is, “You don’t have to change who you are to be successful.”

JK Rowling started as a single mother living on benefits and became a multi-millionaire author; if ever you needed proof that you should follow your dreams, JK Rowling is just that. After multiple rejections from publishers, she finally secured a print run of 1,000 copies for her first book, Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone. If you feel inspired by her story as I am, then be sure to take her belief that “anything’s possible if you’ve got enough nerve” to heart.

surrogacy’s leading women

Looking back, what is one piece of advice you would have for your younger self?

Learn to accept the unconditional love you deserve and to give it tenfold in return. Do not be afraid to speak your mind—every time. And never hide the parts of yourself that are unique.

Ronda Blair, Director of Case Management

surrogacy’s leading women

What led you to work at a surrogacy agency?

I began my surrogacy journey after going through a divorce and caring for my 2 children with minimal support. The company that I was working for was struggling due to the economy, and being commission-based only made it difficult to support myself and my children.

Since I was adopted myself, I had always thought about adopting a child. The life my parents gave me was amazing. I wanted another child to feel that love and dedication as well. As a single mom with 2 kids trying to support us, I didn’t feel that adoption would ever become a reality. 

It was then that I saw an ad in the newspaper looking for Surrogates. I wasn’t sure what surrogacy was, so I had to do a bit of investigation. As I learned more about surrogacy and what it entailed, I knew this was something I was meant to do. I might not be able to help a child through adoption, but I could help parents become a family and have the child that they dreamed about. I called FSC and had my first interview as a potential surrogate.  

Shortly afterward, Family Source matched me with an amazing couple. I delivered their twins the following year. This amazing experience made my heart so happy that I decided to complete another surrogacy journey. To date, I have completed 3 surrogacy journeys and delivered 4 beautiful babies.  

Rizzo Young Marketing LLC Family Source Consultants Ronda Blair FSC Stories

How have you gotten to where you are today in your leadership position?

I feel that I have gotten to where I am in my leadership position through hard work and dedication. 

It’s important to know about the role you play as well as the industry. I am constantly learning and educating myself on changes in the industry and how better to lead my team. Taking the extra time to better yourself will show your team what they also should be working on. It’s important for the team to be aware of the industry’s newest updates and continue to adapt to changes.

What’s one leadership lesson you’ve learned in your career?

One leadership lesson that I have learned is that you must let the team take ownership. Your job is not to complete tasks for them but to have them trained and prepared for the tasks brought to their attention. They should feel confident in their ability.

surrogacy’s leading women

Looking back, what is one piece of advice you would have for your younger self?

One piece of advice I would have for my younger self would be to never give up on your dreams. Know that with hard work and dedication, anything is possible.  

Denise Conner, Surrogacy Support Manager

surrogacy’s leading womenWhat led you to work at a surrogacy agency?

My own struggle with infertility is what eventually led me to become a surrogate. After years of trying to have a family and multiple losses, I knew I needed additional help to conceive. After finally becoming successful and giving birth to my beautiful twin girls, I decided to give back to the community of people who had helped me become a mom. I wanted to help another woman become a mother. 

I enjoyed pregnancy so much, and I couldn’t imagine how a woman must feel not being able to experience the feelings and joys of pregnancy. I knew I had to do something to help this group of women. 

Family Source matched me with the most perfect couple for me and my family. We became fast friends with mutual respect and trust between us. They were entrusting me with their precious cargo, and I was going to do everything in my power to help them become parents. 

When our first transfer failed, I felt terrible, but my Intended mother’s positivity kept me going. She was convinced that the next one was going to take, and it certainly did! 

We enjoyed an uncomplicated, perfect pregnancy together. She wanted to be as involved as she could and know everything I was feeling, good or bad. She had made peace with not being able to carry her own child, and that provided me with such comfort. 

Their daughter is their pride and joy, and every time I see a family picture of them with huge smiles on their faces, I know that I helped do that. The feeling of pride is indescribable. Being a surrogate is the best possible feeling besides having your own children.

surrogacy agency support team

How have you gotten to where you are today in your leadership position?

Throughout my journey, I had strong bonds with the leaders of Family Source. We stayed in touch and became friends. I was approached by Staci not long after my journey ended. She said they wanted to start up a surrogate support group and asked me if I could lead it. Of course, I jumped on that opportunity! 

Through the years, it has transformed into more than a support group. Within my position, I am now able to reach out to all of the surrogates working in our program and be an admin for our online private support page. Once the pandemic put a hold on in-person meetings, we started an online monthly support Zoom that everyone loves! 

I really look forward to forming bonds and friendships with these superhuman women whose journeys I get the privilege of guiding.

surrogacy’s leading women

How do you balance your career, personal life, and passions? Is there such a thing as balance?

This is a tricky time to answer this question for myself. Typically, I used to handle it quite well. Recently, I’ve had to care for my aging parents, so it’s been challenging. When you love all aspects of your life and want to commit one thousand percent to all of them, it’s hard to know where the balance is. I’m working on trying to fill my cup first so that I can care for the people around me. I’ll get there someday!

Looking back, what is one piece of advice you would have for your younger self?

I would say that so many of the things I thought were important at the time actually aren’t. That it doesn’t matter what other people think of me. Be comfortable in your own skin and be your own advocate. As women, marriage and children alter us and change us in ways we never knew possible. I realized I’m actually a really cool person, and through the years, I’ve realized what deserves my attention and what does not. You will disagree with people, but the people who really know the core of your spirit are the ones that count in this life.  

Staci Swiderski, CEO and owner of Family Source Consultants has been involved in the field of reproductive medicine since 2002. Staci has vigorously grown the comprehensive egg donation and gestational surrogacy agency to become a worldwide leader in the third-party reproduction field. Staci is a former intended parent herself. She and her husband welcomed their son via gestational surrogacy in 2005. Additionally, Staci had the experience of assisting an infertile couple (AKA Recipient Parents) build their family through her efforts as an egg donor, with her donation resulting in the births of their son and daughter.