WEST CHESTER, PA — The Fund for Women and Girls hosted its first Champions of Change Summit: Bringing All Voices to the Table on Friday, March 26, 2021, in a virtual format.
Inspired by the annual Champions of Change Event recognizing an individual and company for their commitment to practices that align with women’s economic advancement and equity, the first-ever Champions of Change Summit: Bringing All Voices to the Table united previous honorees of the Corporate Champion of Change Award and Gladys Black ‘Woman of Distinction’ Award for a dialogue and panel discussions on best practices in diverse and inclusive leadership.
The event kicked off with a keynote address from Dr. Katina Sawyer, Assistant Professor of Management at the George Washington University School of Business and Co-founder of Workr Beeing, who shared her research on key behaviors leaders can enact to drive greater inclusivity at work and unlock potential, even in industries that have been historically less inclusive.
Following the keynote address, Board member of The Fund and panel moderator Pattie Diggin introduced past honorees of the Corporate Champion of Change Award and opened up discussion about how each company has prioritized the leadership roles and voices of women. Stephanie Nolan Deviney of Fox Rothschild LLP explained the creation of her firm’s associate steering committee, recognizing that not all young women have “great women leaders that help us as we’ve come up in our professions and we really wanted to provide that to the younger women associates in our office and also give them the opportunity to have leadership roles.”
Lauren Ranalli of First Resource Bank noted that female leadership has always come naturally in her workplace: “When it comes to valuing women in the workplace, this was the case from day one. As one of the founding members of the bank, there was always a seat for women at the table, and that philosophy is really ingrained in our culture.”
Tiffany Scott, Board Member of The Fund, then moderated a discussion with previous ‘Gladys Black’ Women of Distinction honorees about their motivations, their accomplishments as impactful leaders, and how they have navigated challenges: “I’ve tried to help other women in a consistent way so that it’s easier for them to navigate, find someone who they can get ideas from or share their ambitions with, talk about the road up with, and really just try to make it easier for them,” offered Roberta Torian, Principal at Seneca Global Strategies and experienced Financial Services Counsel.
Dr. Laurie Bernotsky, Executive Vice President and Provost at West Chester University (WCU), shared that her inspiration stems from Madeline Wing Adler who was the first female president of WCU, saying that “there were people actively working against her literally because she was a woman” and yet she overcame that adversity to create a “tremendous impact on the borough, on the downtown area, certainly on the university and our faculty, staff and students. She’s bold, she’s courageous, she knew who she was and she took me under her wing very early on in my career and I owe a lot to her and am inspired by her in the work I do now for other women.”
When asked to offer advice to attendees, Charmaine Spence Rochester added, “If you can make a difference for one person, you never know, that one person can make a difference for someone else. So, don’t always think it has to be big, you can start with something smaller. Start with one person that you know you can help and you just never know how far-reaching that can be.”
“Our honorees are relentless when it comes to supporting women on the path toward leadership and growth,” said The Fund’s Executive Director Michelle Legaspi Sánchez. “The Fund was thrilled to bring them together to go deeper in sharing their insights and experiences, offering all of us the opportunity to learn from them.”
Read more about the Champions of Change Summit speakers here.
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