Willow Spotlight: Rayna Lesser Hannaway

by Willow Editorial Team

Meet Rayna Lesser Hannaway, CFA, a Portfolio Manager and Analyst at Polen Capital. She’s a mother of two and a community and K-12 education leader in Greater Boston.


How does she do it all?


Willow Founder and CEO Lacy Garcia recently sat down with Hannaway for a fresh perspective on juggling a demanding career with school age children as both a mother and Chair of the Board of her children’s elementary school.

On being a working mom amid the new reality

It’s difficult enough to live during a pandemic, let alone navigating the back to school plans that are constantly evolving.


“Everyone is dealing with different situations as it relates to schools this year. Some are remote, others are hybrid, and some in-person. Make the best of the hand you are dealt. Focus on what’s inside your control. Don’t feel guilt for having to focus on your own work. Setting a great example for your child is one of the best things you can do for them.”


For Hannaway, her mother was a prominent figure in her life and served as a role model.


“She showed me what it means to have a strong work ethic, gain financial independence, the balance being a mother with being a business leader. She didn’t help with homework, she often wasn’t home for dinner, but she showed up for me and my brother in different ways,” she says.

On financial independence for women

“To me, the question should be how women get financial independence and not why they need it.”


Emotional triggers might come easily for many, especially during the pandemic. A lot of things are uncertain right now, and while it’s okay to experience daunting moments in your life, Hannaway believes it’s important to learn the skills to make smart financial decisions and have a long-term plan that you can stick to.


“Nearly all women will have to take control of their finances at some point in their life but so few have the confidence to do so because they haven’t taken the time to figure it out,” Hannaway says. “Too often women relinquish their ability to make financial decisions because they view money matters as a foreign language.”


“Take the time to invest in yourself and get the skills and confidence you need to control your financial future,” with articles, books and online resources to educate yourself. Hannaway also says getting help from experts is another avenue to build on your financial future, although having a foundation is important to help you to advocate for yourself.


Rather than questioning why financial independence is important, Hannaway says women should instead ask how to be financially independent.


“To me, being financially independent is not about having wealth, it means being able to make good financial decisions. Having a strong student mindset where you figure things out for yourself is an important first step,” says Hannaway.