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MAKER Molly Bodrato’s commitment to the country

Besides her military and civilian jobs, Molly balanced the demands of single motherhood. A week after turning 16e birthday, “my life trajectory changed dramatically when I gave birth to my daughter,” she says. Her quaint northern New Jersey suburban community didn’t quite embrace the young mother, who struggled to stay in high school. However, she stayed the course and managed to complete her education, graduate with her class, and continue her college education.

“From an early age, I wanted to model my daughter’s behavior – so she would see that level of perseverance when everyone tells you it’s not possible,” says Molly, who has fond memories of her own childhood. After her parents divorced when she was young, her father moved in with her parents and used his savings to buy a three-door house for his children and their mother.

“My brother and I bounced between houses at will,” she says. “My dad’s priority family made for a very loving and wonderful childhood and was my first experience of sacrificing and swallowing your pride for doing the right thing.”

During her freshman year of college, their mother died. With no job or established career plan after graduating with honors in criminal justice, Molly used part of her inheritance plus a loan to buy a local bar and grill. “It was an investment in a business, but more importantly, in myself,” she says.

For three years, she worked seven days a week running her restaurant, which at its peak had 12 employees, all older than her. Somehow, she also found time for law school. Although she didn’t graduate, she learned to create goals and set manageable milestones, which is how she operates to this day. She considers her restaurant experience “a mini-MBA,” even though it went out of business during the financial crisis.

While looking for a job, her friend brought to her attention a vacant position in operations at an asset management company and insisted that Molly apply. “Working in finance had never crossed my mind,” she says. “I was apprehensive, but my friend believed in my qualifications and abilities.” She got the job and excelled at it. After several years, she joined Morgan Stanley in 2013, shortly after enlisting in the US Air National Guard. She attended basic training, then technical school in logistics planning and served part-time for eight years.

Wanting to do even more, she applied and was selected for a military commission. “I wanted to become an officer, lead our troops and obey them,” Molly said. So, in 2021, she went to officer training school and was made a second lieutenant.

Her service, she says, helps her “do the greatest good by the greatest number of people,” a mantra she lives by. “Focus on the good that people around you are doing, and a lot of positivity and success will come from that.”

Confirming this success, Molly has been named the 2022 Morgan Stanley MAKER, joining a distinguished group of women and men, all nominated by their peers for serving as advocates, pioneers and innovators for the advancement of women. She is honored to be recognized for bringing about positive change.

Among the many ways she does this, she serves on the steering committee of the Morgan Stanley Veterans Employee Network, which leverages the company’s talent and services to help the veteran community as a whole. She was recognized for her participation in the firm’s annual conference 100 miles for hope fundraiser for the American Legion, an organization “close to my heart,” says Molly, a member of Post 177 in Barboursville, W.Va. Dozens of employees participate in the annual campaign that encourages physical activity and raises funds for the American Legion Veterans and Children’s Foundation.