Mergers & Acquisitions has named 36 leaders the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A, including Kainos Capital’s Sarah Bradley, Madison Capital Funding’s Jennifer Cotton, Kayne Anderson Capital Advisors' Nishita Cummings (pictured), Antares Capital’s Shannon Fritz, Avante Mezzanine Partners’ Jeri Harman, Duane Morris’ Nanette Heide, the Riverside Co.’s Pam Hendrickson, Monroe Capital’s Karin Kovacic, Stifel’s Justine Mannering, KPS Capital Partners’ Raquel Palmer, Accordion’s Michelle Van Hellemont and Sterling Investment Partners’ Amy Weisman. All 36 are outstanding dealmakers both inside and outside of their firms. Interest in women’s issues is high, as is clear by the record number of women heading to the U.S. Congress. The momentum is fueled, at least in part, by the #MeToo movement against sexual harassment and sexual assault, although the movement is facing something of a backlash at the moment. Some men in the financial services sector are reacting by avoiding women. But many women in the middle market are stepping up and recommitting to helping each other. “We launched Exponent Women to reinforce the value of bringing together women in financial services. We exchange connections, information and ideas to help one another succeed,” explains Van Hellemont, a founding member of Exponent Women. Recruiting women has become more of a priority at private equity firms. Eighty-three percent of private equity managers based in North America, Asia and Europe say they have focused on increasing gender diversity in their front-office roles over the last decade, according to new research from EY. This year, we asked the featured dealmakers to tell their own stories through Q&As, including their advice for women. "To quote Steve Martin, 'Be so good that they can’t ignore you,'" advises Cummings. "The harsh reality is that this is still a male dominated world, so to succeed, you need to be better than your male counterparts. That doesn’t mean you cannot achieve balance – I have a family, a life outside of work, and a career I’m proud of. Don’t compromise, make your voice heard, and know that hard work is the great equalizer." Related: Meet the 2019 Most Influential Women in Mid-Market M&A. Super Saturday (Dec. 22) is expected to be the second-busiest for traffic at stores this holiday season, trailing only Black Friday, according to retail tracking firm ShopperTrak. The ongoing challenges in the sector continue to force some retailers to close, including the June liquidation of Toys R Us, backed by Bain Capital and KKR & Co. Inc. (NYSE: KKR). Technology is driving many of the transactions. For more, see 5 trends driving retail M&A deals. Great Hill Partners, a growth-oriented private equity firm, has completed the sale of its controlling interest in Ascenty Holdings LLC, a provider of data center and fiber infrastructure services in Brazil, to Digital Realty Trust (NYSE: DLR). The transaction valued the company at over $2 billion. For recent deal announcements, see The weekly wrap: 3M, Centerbridge, Carlyle. For ongoing private equity fundraising developments, see our weekly column, PE fundraising scorecard: Bain Capital and Harvest Partners. Featured content Private equity firms are giving back - organizing groceries at food pantries, mentoring students in schools, running races for cancer cures and pitching in at animal shelters. In time for the holidays, Mergers & Acquisitions highlights the philanthropic and volunteering initiatives of 5 PE firms: the Carlyle Group LP (Nasdaq: CG), Frontier Capital, Huron Capital, the Riverside Co. and Star Mountain Capital. At Carlyle, charity starts at the top, with CEO David Rubenstein's signing of The Giving Pledge, a commitment by the world’s wealthiest individuals and families to dedicate the majority of their wealth to philanthropy. Community involvement is more important than ever to today’s work force. Millennials, defined as people born between 1981 and 1996 by the Pew Research Center, are “for sustainability, diversity, inclusion and giving back to the community,” says Carlyle managing director Christopher Ullman. Read the full story, The Big Give. Dealmakers share their thoughts on Giving Back in video interviews conducted by Mergers & Acquisitions at ACG Philadelphia's M&A East. Check out our video with Reed Smith's Jonathan Moyer: For millennial dealmakers, giving back is part of who they are. And watch our conversationw with Baker Tilly Capital's Judit Nagy-Eichelber: Volunteer work brings teams together. Infrastructure investors can no longer afford to think about only concrete, glass and steel. Digitalization is transforming the role played by physical assets, and Paris private equity firm Ardian has identified five critical attributes, which form the foundation of a new approach to value creation called Augmented Infrastructure. For more, read: How digital disruption is transforming private equity investments in infrastructure. The number of teams in contention for the NFL playoffs will continue to lower this weekend in Week 16. Off the field, many football players invest in companies. New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady recently teamed with former Giants defensive end Michael Strahan, who is the co-host of ABC’s Good Morning America, to launch a sports media startup called Religion of Sports Media, which has raised $3 million in venture capital funding from CourtsideVC and Advancit Capital. Muhsin Muhammad, who played wide receiver for the Carolina Panthersand the Chicago Bears, is a managing director of private equity firm Axum Capital Partners. Steve Young, former San Francisco 49ers quarterback, is a co-founder of private equity firm HGGC. View our slideshow, NFL stars Tom Brady, Michael Strahan, Steve Young go PE. Events ACG New York Women of Leadership Summit brings together women in the middle-market dealmaking community for a day focused on networking and knowledge sharing on Jan. 17 at the Intercontinental Barclay Hotel. Alexa Von Tobel, chief innovation officer of Northwestern Mutual, keynotes. Exponent Women kicks off the new year with an evening of networking on Jan. 24 at The Campbell, at New York's Grand Central Terminal. Jazz Age financier John W. Campbellconverted the space to his private office and reception hall in 1923, and it has recently been restored by design firm Ingrao Inc. ACG Boston, ACG Connecticut, ACG New Jersey, ACG New York & ACG Philadelphia host ACG Northeast Dealmaking at the Mountain at Stowe Mountain Resort in Stowe, Vermont Jan. 27-29. The event provides a chance for middle-market M&A professionals from across the northeast to come together for two days of close knit networking, shared conversations and valuable time spent to deepen your relationships within the deal community.