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Membership Spotlight: Adriana Frias

The WICTSE Membership Spotlight features members and/or board members that wish to share their experience being a member of the WICT organization. Each month a different member will be spotlighted and showcased in the WICT SE newsletter and via the WICT SE social forums. For the month of October, during Hispanic Heritage Month, we will spotlight Adriana Frias in the Oct. 14th newsletter.

How can WICT Southeast members help celebrate Hispanic culture this month?

A way to celebrate this Hispanic Heritage Month should be to recognize the profound contribution Hispanics have made within the culture, entertainment, from the field, from the service sector; There are great Hispanic women and men that represent wonderful stories of successful paths that can be replied by others.

Also getting off the labels from the Hispanic Community that have been there for some many years and show that it doesn´t matter, we can evolve and grow, it depends on will, decision and discipline, is important to say that if Hispanics grow also the American.

What propelled you to join WICT Southeast?

First of all, to be in an association of professionals with common goals and at in the end, we are human beings struggling for better opportunities but also to be ready to give and to share experiences that can be a lesson for others. Having a mentor and being a mentee has given me the clear perspective of where I am and where I want to be.

At WICT both women & men are encouraged to be a catalyst and set the wheels of change in motion. In your experience, share your thoughts on some key benefits of being a member of WICT and why individuals should join or consider renewing their membership?

I really consider as a member of WICT for the past three years, it has been a great journey of knowledge and friendship, I had more benefits than I ever think!

The WICT webinars or workshops are founded on serious and enriching content from people with great paths of life, that are proactive, resilient and have managed to stay and get ahead beneath the circumstances. WICT had connected me with countless people that maybe would have taken me years to reach; also I have an approach and network with people in my field.

As for me, I will continue to be part of WICT because it lifts up and gives me direction.

How has WICT Southeast played an important role in your professional/personal life?

WICT has pushed me along in my career in many ways, had given me support and confidence to go on, to see the range of opportunities that are in this sector and how it has been growing.

In 2020, WICTSE Latam Global Mentoring (WICT Mexico directed by Fernanda Merodio) gave me the opportunity to participate in my first Mentoring with Lizzette Carver from Comcast as my mentor, it was an experience that I really recommend. So in that attitude to keep learning now in this 2021 I am taking my second Mentoring session which will end on November. It´s been awesome the workshops where I have learn a lot.

Over the past year the world has faced major challenges. What is one piece of practical advice you have gained from WICT Southeast events that can benefit others?

We´ve been through 18 months of changes and disruption in all sectors but let me tell you that in the area of Communications has been really crucial and at overwhelming speed.  A practical advice that I consider is that no matter what your gender or age or job position you have, there is a real commitment to others, receiving the knowledge, taking whatever it is in turn, share it or apply it.

WICT Southeast Announces 2022 Board of Directors

Women in Cable Telecommunications Southeast Chapter announces the members of its 2022 Board of Directors.

WICT Southeast is one of 24 Women in Cable Telecommunications (WICT) chapters across the U.S., Latin America, UK and Europe. WICT consists of over 10,500 members globally. The Southeast Chapter is the third largest local chapter with approximately 800 members.

WICT Southeast represents the diverse functions of the cable industry and brings together members located in Georgia, Tennessee, Alabama and Mississippi. Each member has their own dynamic experience, distinctive perspective and background.

Gimette DeLaughter (Cox) incumbent Vice President rises to President in 2022. Jamelia Smith (Cox) previous Sr. Director of Mentoring in 2014/2015 transitions to Vice-President. Shelley Hoffmann (Healthgrades/Red Ventures) incumbent President will move to Immediate Past President. With over 30 positions, spanning over 15 different companies, our 2022 board is sure to accomplish great things in the coming year. Please make sure to check out the entire list of our 2022 board members and congratulate your fellow WICT friends and colleagues.

PresidentGimetteDeLaughterCox Communications
Vice PresidentJameliaSmithCox Communications
Immediate Past PresidentShelleyHoffmannHealthgrades/Red Ventures
Senior TreasurerAqueelah Traylor-MorganWarnerMedia
SecretaryLesliePodraskyDiscovery, Inc
Advisory Board/Executive ChampionSheriMcGaughyMcGaughy Law
Senior Director of ProgrammingCindyHughesCox Communications
Senior Director of PartnershipsKerriHayesUPtv
Senior Director of Marketing/CommunicationsLisaConklinCox Communications
Senior Director of MembershipLizzetteTarver
Senior Director of MentoringErikaWeaverDiscovery, Inc
Senior Director of Red Letter AwardsKaseyWhiteCox Communications
TreasurerStacyHurdCox Communications
Director of CommunicationsChristinaThompsonCox Automotive
Director of DesignAnaAdlerAna Adler Creative
Director of Social Media MarketingCrystalScalesComcast
Director of TechnologyLydiaSan GeorgeAT&T
Director of Membership GA & ALLoriJacksonCox Communications
Director of Membership TNPending
Director of Outreach/PhilanthropyAngelaCannonUP Faith & Family
Director of Programming ALShannonAndrewsComcast
Director of Programming GAVincineBrownComcast
Director of Programming GAAllisonJacobsWarnerMedia
Director of Programming TN KnoxvillePending
Director of Programming TN NashvilleMelissaHarrisTelecom Training Corporation
Director of Mentoring GA & ALKimBowman-ScottCox Communications
Director of Mentoring TNKatieFarritorRFD-TV
Director of PartnershipsTamminaHartComcast
Director of Red Letter AwardsPending
Director at Large – BylawsChrisMorterCox Communications
Director at Large – PartnershipsMichaelWigginsCox Communications
Director at Large – Executive OutreachKathyHatalaBlueprint RF/ Cox
Director at Large – Chapter ExpansionJanineBowlingCommscope
Director at Large – FinanceNatashaPrewittThe Weather Group
Director at Large – Virtual TechnologyCatherineEllisComcast
Director at Large – Absentee CoverageAnneLoescherScripps Networks
Director at Large – Diversity & InclusionLynnetteSmithThe Weather Channel

Membership Spotlight: Diana Johnson

The WICTSE Membership Spotlight features members and/or board members that wish to
share their experience being a member of the WICT organization. Each month a different
member will be spotlighted and showcased in the WICT SE newsletter and via the WICT SE
social forums. For the month of September we will spotlight Diana Johnson, Comcast, Sr.
Marketing Specialist.

How can WICT Southeast members help celebrate Hispanic culture this month?

By highlighting Hispanic professionals or businesses in the industry who are making an impact and creating opportunities.

What propelled you to join WICT Southeast?

The opportunity to network with other amazing professionals, build my brand and develop my career.

At WICT, both women & men are encouraged to be a catalyst and set the wheels of change in motion. In your experience, share your thoughts on some key benefits of being a member of WICT and why individuals should join or consider renewing their membership?

As professionals, we need to continue to own our careers and utilize the resources provided by our employers – and one of those is a WICT membership. I’ve been an active member for many years, which has allowed me to participate in different events, find mentors, develop new relationships, enhance my communications and people skills and become more empowered in my career and workplace. WICT provides an incredible amount of talent, technology and expertise that can benefit you, your career and the the company your work for in so many different ways. Take action and enroll today. 

How has WICT Southeast played an important role in your professional/personal life?

It has helped me build my network, meet amazing mentors, enhance my view on different aspects of life and collaborate with other great members.

Over the past year the world has faced major challenges. What is one piece of practical advice you have gained from WICT Southeast events that can benefit others?

Keep improving yourself and be resourceful. Even though the pandemic has kept us from doing things the way we used to, I do enjoy the flexibility that virtual meetings and trainings provide. I would also recommend staying connected to a community of like-minded people – like the WICT community –  to keep you motivated, positive and focused on the things you can control.

Membership Spotlight: Kay Allen

Our Membership Spotlight features members sharing their experiences in the WICT organization. Each month, a different member will be spotlighted and showcased in our blog.

This month, we’re excited to spotlight Kay Allen, Comcast Director of University Relations/Talent Programs/DE&I.

Kay Allen, Comcast
Director of University Relations/Talent Programs/DE&I

What propelled you to join WICT Southeast?

I wanted an opportunity to connect with like-minded professionals in an environment that promoted growth and connection for its members. After having the privilege to attend the 2014 Red Letter Awards and witnessing an amazing group of women being honored and recognized for their impact in the industry, I WAS SOLD! I knew then that WICT Southeast was the place for me, and I’ve made it my mission to remain a member year after year ever since.

At WICT both women & men are encouraged to be a catalyst and set the wheels of change in motion. In your experience, share your thoughts on some key benefits of being a member of WICT and why individuals should join or consider renewing their membership?

Some key benefits of being a member of WICT Southeast revolves around the access you get when you are a member. Aside from the catalogue of webinars/events you get access to as a member, you also get exposure to powerhouse professionals that can give you firsthand knowledge to take your “LIFE” to the next level. Leveraging your membership is totally up to you, like anything else in life, the more you put into it the more you will get out of it.  

How has WICT Southeast played an important role in your professional/personal life?

WICT Southeast has played a role by giving me tips for career success and by providing real-life examples of how to be a game changer professionally and personally. In addition to career tips, I have grown substantially when it comes to networking and public speaking due to attending events with professionals of all backgrounds and experiences.

Over the past year the world has faced major challenges. What is one piece of practical advice you have gained from WICT Southeast events that can benefit others?

Be Brave, Be Kind, Be Flexible! With everything that happened last year I believe we all can agree that the human side of who we are was brought to the surface. I love the fact that though our efforts may have been delayed, WICT Southeast never stopped moving. I feel closer than ever to WICT and respect all the gems within leadership who kept up the momentum. Your passion is appreciated, and we all have you to Thank for ensuring that WICT Southeast is better than ever.

An inspirational event: What I learned from Phenomenal Woman – the Secret to My Success

From left to right: Moderator LaPorsche Thomas and panelists Beatrice York, Sujata Gosalia, Tina Simmons and Sandy Howe

By Shannon Andrews

Inspirational is the word I would use to describe Thursday’s Phenomenal Woman: The Secret of My Success panel discussion. Listening to Beatrice York (Afiniti), Sujata Gosalia (Cox Communications), Tina Simmons (Comcast), and Sandy Howe (WICT Global Board Executive) share about the things that contributed to their achievements in their lives and careers left me awestricken.  

Beatrice shared that the best way to navigate through imposter syndrome is to use it for building your brand. Grow those skills that you believe that you are lacking. We don’t have to wait to get that seal of approval from someone. We decide how we show up and what our brand is.

Finding what brings you joy is essential when thinking about your career. Sujata mentioned that she finds joy in helping people. Another great takeaway was to ask for advice from people at all levels from different walks of life. We can learn from anyone; we don’t have to wait for a senior leader to give us a pearl of wisdom.

Using the drama to change the business was a turning point in Tina’s career. She encouraged us to network with others when we don’t want anything and not expect a connection to equate to a job offer. We also need to reshape the way we think of HR; it’s not just the place that you go when someone’s in trouble. HR is a breeding ground of knowledge about the business and knows the best ways to navigate your career.

One story that stood out to me was Sandy sharing how she was initially unsure of why she was asked to attend a meeting of male leaders. As the meeting progressed, she was able to add valuable insights tapping into her technical experience that others in that meeting did not possess. Sandy understood that she was invited to meetings because others were confident in her abilities and knew her value.

To close out the event, each panelist shared one thing that they believed was their secret of success. The responses included resilience, curiosity, being fearless, having the humility to understand that others have helped you along the way, and optimism that there is light at the end of the tunnel.

I leave you with this one question to ponder; what is the secret of your success?

Shannon Andrews is an Atlanta native who is in the process of publishing her first book and writing her second. She is a wife, mother of 2, daughter, sister, cousin, aspiring CEO, and the Manager of Reporting Analysis at Comcast NBCUniversal in the Business Insights IS Solutions Strategy team.

Membership Spotlight: Michael Wiggins

Our Membership Spotlight features members sharing their experiences in the WICT organization. Each month, a different member will be spotlighted and showcased in our blog.

This month, we’re thrilled to spotlight Michael Wiggins, WICT Southeast Director at Large – Partnerships, Cox Communications.

Michael Wiggins
Rylie
  1. What propelled you to join WICT Southeast?

On January 4th of this year, my lovely wife Katy and I welcomed a beautiful daughter (Rylie) into the world. It was at that moment that it all started to “click” for me, and I realized that the time for me to get more deeply involved was now. I have always held myself to a high standard when it comes to Inclusion, Diversity, and Equity – but it hasn’t been until recently in my career that I recognize the obligation I have to be a catalyst and elevate my commitment. You may have heard the phrase “Diversity is a Fact; Inclusion is an Act”, and that sums it up nicely for me personally. WICT is one of the ways I’m taking action on the initiatives that matter most to me and helping build a better future for the next generation.

  1. At WICT both women & men are encouraged to be a catalyst and set the wheels of change in motion. In your experience, share your thoughts on some key benefits of being a member of WICT and why individuals should join or consider renewing their membership?

As a man, I was initially reluctant to take the leap of faith with WICT – because I had made a poor assumption that it was a professional society exclusively for women. However, what I realize now is that men play an incredibly important role as allies and activists to help drive the progress we so desperately need. I have found that the clarity of WICT’s mission, the access to resources and information to help myself and my team’s development, and the ability to network with brilliantly talented people all across the Southeast and beyond is something that is helping me grow and be a better leader each and every day.

  1. How has WICT Southeast played an important role in your professional/personal life?

The opportunity to participate in incredible programming events, support chapter expansion, and curate existing and new partnerships is something that has helped me develop in ways I’m only beginning to understand. Getting out of my comfort zone and supporting a cause that most outsiders wouldn’t typically associate me with has helped me grow as I recognize that I am an important piece of the inclusion and equity puzzle in both my professional and personal life. Additionally, the ability to leverage my role in partnerships to help extend our partnerships into adjacent industries and new companies is something that is helping me build stronger connections across a wider array of organizations.

  1. Over the past year the world has faced major challenges. What is one piece of practical advice you have gained from WICT Southeast events that can benefit others?

In May, I had the absolute pleasure to listen to and learn from a few amazing women of Asian heritage in the Beyond the Hashtag Series panel presented by Cox Communications. Sujata Gosalia (Chief Strategy Officer at Cox) made reference to the fact that it isn’t just “charm and brilliance” that will help you develop and advance in your career. It’s about finding something you’re passionate about and channeling that energy to consistently deliver your best work on the things that you value most. That’s why I’m incredibly excited to keep being a catalyst to set the wheels of change in motion with WICT Southeast and beyond – not only for my new baby daughter Rylie – but for all women and others who struggle with inequity in the workplace and in communities across the world.

June is poppin’ with impactful events

While the kids are out of school for the summer, WICT Southeast is ramping up our events and programming offerings! Your WICT Southeast membership includes free admission to most virtual events – and there are quite a few coming up in June. Check them out below!

Considering a career pivot? Or do you just like wine?
Pivot To Your Passion is a virtual wine tasting and panel discussion with women who have pivoted their career path toward their passions, offering encouragement to attendees who may be facing or considering a change in their career path, whether forced or voluntarily. You’ll enjoy the fruits of panelist Denise Gough’s personal pivot through our virtual wine tasting. In addition, the panelists will discuss what precipitated their career transitions, how they arrived at their passion and path, and how they actually made the changes.

Featuring Denise Gough, Jerilyn Bliss, Samantha Lane and Jill Johnson, four former executive-level professionals who have themselves pivoted toward their passions. They’ll share their stories and wine suggestions over a virtual happy hour, offering inspiration for attendees who may be contemplating a pivot in their own lives. 

Join us Tuesday, June 8 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Find out more and register here!


Missing something in your social life?
The S.T.I.R. Virtual Social Mixer for WICT Southeast members, non-members and their families offers socialization, collaboration, interaction and networking.

Join WICT Southeast for a virtual evening of fun, and engage at a social mixer for members and their families. There will be games, networking, and information regarding the work WICTSE is doing in the industry and community. Not a member? Join now and learn how you can benefit from involvement in WICT.

Join us Tuesday, June 16 from 5 – 6:30 p.m. Eastern. Register today!

Want to broaden your horizons?
The LGBTQIA community is experiencing major generational shifts relating to more racial diversity and more workers in younger generations. According to research, policies implemented over the past 20 years while critical, are no longer enough to create an inclusive workplace and change behaviors and biases of majority groups.

Join WICT Southeast for a conversation about what companies are doing to ensure employees do not feel the need to hide a crucial part of their identity while at the office. Tonya Walley, VP of Field Operations and Plant Maintenance at Cox, Robert Rustman, Director of Human Resources, Strategic Initiatives, Chicago at Comcast, Nicole Young- Turner, CEO of Kaleidoscope Village and Nathan Small, Sr. Recruiter| Talent Acquisition WarnerMedia (News & Sports) will share examples of daily experiences that impact feelings of inclusion and D&I strategies that can help to improve inclusion, which has a significant impact on innovation, creativity, and retention.

Join us Tuesday, June 22 from 12 – 1:30 p.m. Eastern. Learn more and register now!

A Welcome from WICT Southeast President Shelley Hoffmann

WICT Southeast Members,

Happy New Year! 

The past year has been one of unexpected transition, in which we became forever bonded by major moments in history, in our industry and in our chapter. Looking forward, 2021 will be a year where we can cultivate change on our own terms.

To that end, the WICT Southeast Board has chosen one of the seven WICT Touchstones of Leadership as the foundation for all chapter initiatives this year: BE A CATALYST and set the wheels of change in motion. WICT is a transformational organization, and our chapter is poised to be a shining example of what it means to be a change agent. 

“We are WICT.” It’s a phrase I find myself reflecting on often. It means different things to different members at different times. For me right now, it means community. A community that didn’t waver when faced with a year of challenge and will be steadfast in their resolve to own future change. But what does WICT mean to you?

In 2021 it could be any of the following:

  • The ongoing commitment to member development through programs and content supporting female empowerment, diversity and inclusion, the LQBTQ+ community, and Black Lives Matter
  • Global Mentoring Experience, a first-of-its-kind collaboration with global WICT chapters to provide a comprehensive mentoring program led by industry thought leaders
  • WICT Leadership Conference Scholarship, offering fellowship opportunities for members to attend WICT Global’s marquee annual Leadership Conference, virtually or in New York City
  • Executive-Level Roundtable Series, exploring Results Leadership, diversity initiatives, keeping women in the workforce, and planning and strategy in uncertain times
  • Red Letter Awards, our 18th annual gala celebration recognizing the accomplishments and outstanding achievements of women in our industry

Thank you to our sponsors for your continued collaboration and commitment to the mission of developing and supporting women leaders in the cable telecommunications industry. Because of our partnerships, WICT Southeast can offer these exceptional professional development programs for no additional charge to our members. This unique benefit distinguishes the WICT Southeast chapter.

I have been involved with WICT as a member and volunteer for 10 years. For the last five, I have served on the WICT Southeast Board of Directors, most recently as Vice President. I am indebted to the Board for preparing me for the role of chapter President. It is a privilege to serve the second largest WICT chapter across the U.S., Europe, Latin America and the United Kingdom—a role I assume with respect. 

I get to work alongside 35 inspiring women on the Board who are passionate about WICT and live the mission as I do. Together, we commit to giving you the tools you need to continue your progression as impactful leaders.

I read a lot of memoirs. Elaine Welteroth’s “More Than Enough” is one that keeps calling me back. I shared this quote from her book with the Board, and I leave it with you:

“When women affirm women, it unlocks our power: It gives us permission to shine brighter.”

Let this be our intention for 2021—both for women and for men. BE A CATALYST for change and lift each other up so we can all shine brighter together. 

Shelley Hoffmann

2021 WICT Southeast President

Healthgrades Senior Director, Content

Chapter End of Year Message

Renita Griskel
2020 – 2021 Chapter President
WICT Southeast

Hello WICT Southeast Members!

What a year!  When “Connect to your peers, your industry and everything around you” was chosen as the WICTSE Touchstone for 2020, our Ruby Anniversary, no one had any idea how critical that touchstone would be for so many people.

My plans for the chapter were well underway when COVID-19 hit. The quick actions of the WICTSE board created a new plan of action allowing us to pivot from in-person events and programs to connect to all of you using virtual platforms.  While we all miss the one on one interaction, this necessary change gave many people throughout Atlanta, Knoxville, Nashville and Birmingham a chance to participate in all of our WICTSE programs. 

Members of our chapter were hit with unemployment, dealing first-hand with the severity of the virus and the uncertainty of what’s ahead. I am proud that one of the first things we did after the widespread onset of COVID-19 was partner with Feeding America to help feed families in need. Many of you supported this initiative and gave generously allowing us to surpass our goal and provide thousands of meals to families in our WICT Southeast footprint. 

The WICTSE response to COVID-19 is just one example of how the organization is in step with evolving widespread issues affecting our industry and community. Social injustice, specifically involving the black community is on the minds of many. I am so proud of how we addressed the issue with our Black Lives Matter: A Movement Not A Moment interactive panel discussion. We had the uncomfortable conversations and separated fact from fiction leaving participants informed and empowered!

We connected with all of you this year addressing the unique needs of 2020 along with the leadership development opportunities that WICTSE consistently provides. Global Mentoring, Tech It Out, Speed Mentoring and Resilience: Standing Strong showcased the mission of WICT to create women leaders who transform our industry. We did that as well with additional programs and events that targeted navigating the unprecedented times of 2020: Maintaining Motivation Through Uncertainty, Mind Your Business, The Art of the Staycation, WICT Happy Hour and of course S.T.I.R. Socialize, Talk, Interact, Remember. And we discussed the changing landscape of the cable industry with LGBTQ+: Exploring the Future By Learning From the Past.

This year we honored 7 amazing women for their accomplishments in the cable telecommunications industry during our first virtual Red Letter Awards. The gala was highly attended and well received. I am so proud of the honorees and the tremendous team behind the scenes who worked tirelessly to make this year’s gala one to remember! We also provided three chapter scholarships to this year’s virtual WICT Leadership Conference. WICT Global provided unparallel content, speakers, and workshops. I am happy that WICTSE was able to help three members attend for free!

While all of this was going on, we celebrated our chapter’s 40th Anniversary! We highlighted the work of the many women who came before us to lay the groundwork for the WICT Southeast Chapter. We learned about their journeys, challenges, and successes, through photos, interviews, and videos throughout the year.

So, as you can see, it’s been a busy and historic year. The pivot of events and programs was intense at times, but also an opportunity for growth. While there were challenges, our resilience is powerful! None of the work this year could have been accomplished without the help, support and expertise of the WICT Southeast board. I am grateful to have 31 talented women at my side committed to the mission of WICT.  Thank you all so much, I am truly honored to have worked with you! Thank you to Maria Brennan, WICT President and CEO and WICT Global for your tremendous encouragement and guidance. And thank you to the WICT Southeast membership for allowing me to be your president.  It was my privilege to lead the WICT Southeast Chapter this year and I look forward to what’s ahead for 2021!

Thank you!

 Renita Griskel

WICT Southeast President

WICT Southeast: The Best of Women Helping Women Succeed

By Sheri McGaughy, Chapter Advisor, and Shelley Hoffmann, Vice President, WICT Southeast

As WICT Southeast’s monumental 40th year comes to a close, I spoke with Sheri McGaughy, the current board Advisor and Executive Champion, about the impact of the organization. Sheri served on the Board of Directors in the roles of Secretary, President and Past President between 2006-2009 and is a past winner of the chapter’s Red Letter Horizon Award for Woman to Watch. She became the WICTSE advisor in 2012. I started by asking her about the Southeast chapter’s legacy.

In your view, what is the legacy of the Southeast chapter and its sustained longevity?

When I think about the Southeast chapter’s legacy, I think about some of the amazing women who laid the groundwork for all of us so many years ago:

  • Gail Sermersheim, then in Atlanta at HBO, who in 1980 decided that the women of the cable industry needed a safe space to learn from each other, gain skills, and move into positions of power and decided to start WICT
  • Jill Slavin, also in Atlanta at HBO, who in 1994 decided that the women of the cable industry needed a world-class year-long leadership program and started the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute
  • Alex Dombronovich, then at The Weather Channel and later at WICT National, who in 2006 was our chapter’s first African American President and mentored and inspired so many of us

Thanks to these women and many others, we now consistently have women in positions of power and influence in our industry.  When you talk to C-suite and other executive women in our footprint, almost all of them will share a story of how WICT has been instrumental in their growth as a leader.

The reason for the sustained longevity is that there is so much more work to do.  While I strongly believe that the cable industry is one of the best places for women to work, the PAR Initiative shows us that we are not fully at a place where women are getting/taking the same opportunities as men, and women of color are having an even harder time.  With the COVID pandemic, we are seeing even more impact on women on the workplace.  I read that 1 in 4 women are considering leaving the workforce or dialing back their careers due to circumstances arising from the pandemic. Now, more than ever, we need our WICT connections to help us get past any roadblocks that may be holding us back and provide the guiding lights to show us the path forward.

What chapter-wide initiative stands out to you from your time as a leader with WICT Southeast?

In 2008, our strategic initiative was to expand the chapter outside of Atlanta for the first time. We had our first non-Atlanta board member, Jerilyn Bliss from Scripps (now Discovery, Inc). She was instrumental in pulling together a team in Knoxville, TN to have our very first event outside of Atlanta. It was a speed mentoring event, and we had over 100 people attend. From that initial start, we kicked off an extremely active program in Knoxville that has grown to about half the board members being in Knoxville, about a third of our members based in Knoxville and expansion to multiple other cities.

What has WICT meant to you over the years? How has it influenced you personally?

WICT has had an extraordinary influence on my personal growth. I was fortunate to be brought onto the Southeast board by Alex Dombronovich, who was one of the strongest leaders I have encountered in the industry.  She taught me so much about the soft skills that are essential for effective leadership. Participation on the WICT board helped me gain leadership and personal skills, and the Betsy Magness Leadership Institute program was life changing. Being a WICT a mentor has allowed me to help others as well as learn from them. All of these WICT experiences have resulted in lifelong friendships.

How did being involved with WICT help you professionally?

I can’t imagine a better organization for professional growth. From skills development, to mentoring, to making contacts that make your job more fun and enriching, it is an exceptional organization. Like many others, I have had promotions that stemmed directly from my WICT involvement.  I feel so lucky to have had WICT in my life. Most importantly, it represents the best of women helping women succeed.

How has leadership by women evolved since your involvement with the WICT Southeast board? And how far do we still have to go? (e.g. Black Lives Matter, shattering the glass ceiling, #metoo, #timesup)

With regard to the glass ceiling, there are some women and minorities who have broken through in our industry.  However, the overall numbers have leveled off. When we are in a world where it is groundbreaking for Goldman Sachs to require one, and only one, diverse board member on a company’s board before going public, there is clearly a disconnect.  If a company can bring on that one diverse person and check that box, the world continues with business as usual and no real change occurs. Amazing women and minority leaders are still sidelined. I feel there are changes happening in the industry with regard to representation and harassment. The press coverage certainly helps keep these issues in the forefront, but there is still a lot of work to be done to actually implement meaningful change. Even now, there is a growing backlash, and there are people, including women, who refuse to believe that things like race and sex based discrimination, harassment and assault happen. There is so much work to be done. The mission of organizations like WICT is far from fulfilled.

Any last words of advice for our chapter members as we wrap-up our memorable 40th year?

Go all in. WICT membership is about helping women succeed. It is an opportunity to help yourself and help others.  Almost all of us have one or more people who have helped us in a large or small way.  It could be a single sentence of advice, an introduction, a job lead, constructive feedback, or maybe an opportunity to grow skills. WICT opens the door to be on both the giving and receiving end of that help.  Jump through that doorway, and you will grow in ways you cannot begin to imagine.