Profiles in Diversity Journal® Second Quarter Magazine 2024

Page 64

Congratulations Judy Huie and Ameez Nanjee

2024 Asian Leadership Award Winners

Profiles in Diversity Journal® has honored Judy Huie and Ameez Nanjee for providing innovative business solutions, mentoring others, and advancing diversity, equity, and inclusion at Freddie Mac.

Freddie Mac ’s inclusive culture empowers leaders like Judy and Ameez to go above and beyond to Make Home Possible.

Learn how Freddie Mac is Home to More at

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Profiles in Diversity Journal® is a quarterly magazine dedicated to promoting and advancing diversity and inclusion in the corporate, government, nonprofit, higher education, and military sectors. For more than 26 years, we have helped to stimulate organizational change by showcasing the visionary leadership, innovative programs, and committed individuals that are making it happen.

The views expressed in this publication are those of the authors and may or may not represent the views of the publisher. Reproduction in whole or in part without written permission is prohibited.

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CONGRATULATIONS to our 23 Women Worth Watching® in STEM winners and our 18 Asian Leadership winners who are profiled in the pages that follow. These esteemed leaders join hundreds and hundreds of previous winners who over the years appeared in our publication. It’s challenging to identify leadership on the world stage today. The good news is you can find leadership in Profiles in Diversity Journal®. It’s easy, deliberate, no nonsense reading. And, the best part, you’re introduced to the winners by reading their essays on the meaning of leadership and why it is so important to them.

Personally, I’m excited and in awe of what Profiles in Diversity Journal® production teams have accomplished over the years in terms of identifying leadership, success, and accomplishments in the workforce and equally awesome are the organizations that nominate these outstanding individuals for recognition.

For two and a half decades, each issue fulfills our mission of fostering inclusion of all employees in their work milieu. Building on the foundation of inclusion, employees have wholesome opportunities to develop and express their leadership skills. We highlight these leaders, in collaboration with their organizations, who are worthy of speaking to our readers through their keen, insightful essays. In essence, our magazine can be referred to as the ultimate virtual and portable mentor. All those who contribute to this publication should be proud that their hard work is acknowledged and honored in this very special issue.

This issue’s content includes relevant, thoughtful articles from: Stephanie Childs, Robert Meyer, Samina Bari and Michael Stuber. I believe the perspectives they have to shared are worthy of your time and consideration.

Our regular feature, “Where Are They Now?” tracks the careers and career advancements of former winners of our annual Women Worth Watching® in Leadership Awards. It’s exciting reading for sure. Thank you to Sharon Broussard on our staff for following up and compiling this compelling leadership feature.

Lastly, and equally important is the announcement of our new award, Emerging Leaders Award. This award joins our powerhouse of leadership awards and affords organizations new and powerful opportunities to acknowledge leadership in their organizations. Details on this and all current awards are available at

We wish everyone a safe and memorable summer. Enjoy the issue and if you or someone you know is looking for the best organizations to advance their career, think no further than the organizations participating in Profiles in Diversity Journal® issues. They’re the best!

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Dechert is a leading global law firm dedicated to amplifying diverse viewpoints and experiences to develop the highest caliber of talent, leadership and service for our clients.

 Diversity Leader, Asian Leadership Award, Latino Leadership Award, Women Worth Watching in STEM –Profiles in Diversity Journal, 2024

 International Firm of the Year for Diverse Women Lawyers, European Women in Business Law Awards – Euromoney, 2023

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 100 Best Companies, Top Companies for Executive Women and Inclusion Index – Seramount, 2023

 Leader in LGBTQ+ Workplace Inclusion – Human Rights Campaign, 2023 (for the 11th consecutive year)

 Best Law Firms to Work For, Named Among Top 10 Law Firms – Vault, 2023


Establishing a Framework for Social Impact

Diageo is much more than an international beverage alcohol company trying to show people how to have a good time. It’s also a beverage alcohol company that wants to have a social impact. It’s dedicated to making sure that consumers understand how to drink responsibly and it is busy helping struggling communities thrive by training people in the growing hospitality field and investing in creating a talent pool.


Eleventh Circuit Clarifies Legal Standard in EPA Pay Discrimination Case

Did you know that the Eleventh Circuit court has clarified the Equal Pay Act of 1963? You should. If an employee proves that she was underpaid in comparison to a male colleague in the same job, companies must meet one of four statutory tests to show why that disparity was legally justified. Attorney Robert Meyer explains all in depth.


2024 Asian Leadership Awards

PDJ presents its fourth annual Asian Leadership Awards. We celebrate the commitment and achievements of these outstanding individuals, who have overcome obstacles, achieved success, mentored others, and more.




Profiles in Diversity Journal® is proud to announce our first ever Emerging Leaders Award. This award aims to honor professionals who embody excellence, integrity, and innovation, regardless of their age or position within the organization. By highlighting these rising leaders, we are committed to showcasing the diverse spectrum of leadership that drives organizations forward and advocating for greater recognition of emerging talent.

We believe that this new award will not only highlight exceptional emerging leaders but also inspire others to strive for excellence and innovation in their own roles.

Your Benefits of Knowing Europe Better

Europe is a lot of things to American businesses but it can help to see it through a political DEI lens. It’s a union of diverse nations that have managed to remain unified since World War II by promoting common values, alignment and inclusion. As Europe weathers a slew of challenges from immigration to a Russian invasion, it will need to remember that to keep its foundation strong.

The Glass Ceiling Beyond the Glass Ceiling: My Ongoing Journey to the Boardroom

Samina Bari thought it would be easy to go from being a successful biotech executive to a successful biotech corporate board member until she got a glimpse of the hard glass ceiling in far too many boardrooms. Still, she is not letting it dissuade her. She is networking, boosting her credentials and speaking openly about the barriers that stand in her way – and why they should be toppled.


2024 Women Worth Watching® in STEM Awards

PDJ proudly presents its sixth annual Women Worth Watching® in STEM Award recipients. This year, the magazine honors another group of amazing women who have persevered through many personal and professional challenges to achieve success and now are reaching out a hand to young women eager to enter STEM.



Where are they now?

Catch up with another 23 past Women Worth Watching® Award recipients and find out what they’ve been up to professionally. Whether they have moved up the career ladder, joined a new team, or struck out on their own, their contributions and achievements continue to impress and inspire.

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Corporate Index

Check out the list of organizations that appeared and/or advertised in this issue. Their contributions are invaluable.

Establishing a Framework for Social Impact

When I think about our purpose at Diageo, two words come to mind: celebration and culture. We have the privilege of being part of memorable moments in people’s lives. With that privilege, it’s essential that they see themselves — and their communities — reflected in our products, our business and our work.

As a beverage alcohol company, we have placed positive societal impact at the heart of our business strategy

through our Society 2030: Spirit of Progress action plan. Executing against these priorities make our business stronger and requires inclusive, collaborative and consumerfocused strategies across all functions. We believe that this makes Diageo more competitive in the long term. That is why our community programs prioritize three areas: educating communities on responsible consumption, providing hospitality training and investing in education to create a talent pipeline.

The plan sets ambitious,

but measurable goals, and puts in place programs that add value to our business, employees, suppliers, customers, and the communities where we operate.

Diverse collaborators lead to meaningful impact

Our success in reaching these goals is dependent upon the support and engagement of our stakeholders. As we move along our journey to meet our social impact goals, we are constantly engaging with suppliers, distributors, retailers and NGO

partners about opportunities to collaborate while authentically reflecting our diverse consumers of today and of tomorrow.

One approach we’ve taken to reach distinct demographic groups in the U.S. and increase awareness of the risks of alcohol-related harm is through the creation of one of the programs I am most proud of at Diageo, the Multicultural Consortium for Responsible Drinking. Research shows that socioeconomic factors, diverse cultural views, and alcohol use disorders are just some of the reasons why drinking affects diverse communities differently, so we’ve fostered a strong network of influential members of the Black, Latino and Native American communities to educate them about responsible consumption.

Through this hyperlocal community-focused effort we provided educational resources to over 1.6 million people in the last year. Looking ahead, we plan to expand our partners in key markets and participate in events and gatherings to meet these communities where they are.

Our consumers know us best through our brands and we are constantly looking to enhance that connection and build brand equity through partnerships that are unique and culturally relevant.

In the U.S., we have leveraged the influence of our sports partners — Major League Soccer and the National Football League — and doubled the number of brands running responsible drinking campaigns, reaching millions of people. Last year,

Diageo’s marketing team at Captain Morgan partnered with multi-award-winning singer, songwriter and rapper Bree Runway to launch one of the largest global responsible drinking campaigns to date, encouraging consumers to “Enjoy Slow” and be mindful of their consumption.

By leveraging meaningful marketing and innovation, our brands have helped Diageo make moderation the norm and achieved one of our 2030 goals early, having reached over 1.4 billion people in total with messages of responsible drinking.

Investing in training and education to help communities thrive

Some of our most important partners are those who work in the hospitality industry, and we are committed to helping our industry thrive and continue to build economic opportunity for individuals entering the sector.

Launched in 2008 in Latin America, our Learning Skills for Life program has since expanded to North America, Europe, Africa and Asia, and is free to those seeking employment in

As we move along our journey to meet our social impact goals, we are constantly engaging with suppliers, distributors, retailers and NGO partners about opportunities to collaborate while authentically reflecting our diverse consumers of today and of tomorrow.

the hospitality industry, especially people who may have faced barriers to education and employment such as veterans, those with disabilities and homeless individuals. Participants receive hands-on training that covers basic spirits and industry skills, food safety, and other bartending fundamentals, along with job readiness training to improve skills like interview preparation and conflict resolution.

In North America, the Learning Skills for Life program recently expanded and now operates in many locations including Baltimore, Chicago, Houston, New Orleans, Toronto, U.S. Virgin Islands and Washington, D.C. In the past two years, over 3,000 individuals have graduated and the majority of the classes have included women and people of color. Notably, we have seen an 89 percent job placement rate among our graduates and are excited to see further success in 2024. I’m proud that graduates have called the program “life-changing.”

We also recognize that we need to go further up the workforce pipeline to attract and educate the next generation of leaders. In 2021, we established permanent endowments


2021, we established

permanent endowments

with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions. In 2023, those endowments helped over 300 students tackle the financial costs of higher education.

with Historically Black Colleges and Universities and Minority-Serving Institutions. In 2023, those endowments helped over 300 students tackle the financial costs of higher education. Altogether, we’ve invested nearly $12 million in 29 institutions to address educational inequities and support career pipeline opportunities for historically underrepresented groups. Going forward, we are working to help create educational pathways for young graduates and professionals that lead to

entrepreneurship, creative and dynamic careers.

We are not going to achieve our societal ambitions alone. These strategies and practices ensure that we invest in culturally relevant and impactful programs, building capacity to support the long-term success of our communities, our consumers, and our business. We know that there will always be an opportunity for improvement, and we won’t always get it right the first time, but we are committed to learning and growing on the path to excellence. PDJ

Stephanie Childs is Executive Vice President, Corporate Relations, Diageo North America, a global leader in beverage alcohol with an outstanding collection of brands across spirits and beer. In her role, she is part of the executive leadership team of Diageo’s market-leading North America business and supports a committed group of communications, government relations and social impact program professionals dedicated to making the world a better place. She sits on the Boards of the American Distilled Spirits Association, the British American Business Council and the Public Affairs Council, the leading professional development organization for corporate affairs experts. She is the executive sponsor of Diageo’s African American employee business resource group.

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 13, 2024

Profiles in Diversity Journal® is proud to honor these individuals who contribute to the success of your organization. We invite you to join us in this endeavor by nominating one or more members of your team who, through their advocacy, perseverance, legacy, or professional achievements, have triumphed over racism and bias to become Black Leaders.

Eleventh Circuit Clarifies Legal Standard in EPA Pay Discrimination Case

The Equal Pay Act of 1963, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d) (“EPA”) requires men and women to receive equal pay for equal work. In order to assert a claim under the EPA, an employee must show that she was paid less than a male comparator working, in this case a male working in a substantially equal job. But does the employee also have to prove that the employer’s reasons for the alleged pay disparity between herself and the male comparator were a pretext for gender discrimination? The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit recently addressed this question in the case of Baker v. Upson Regional Medical Center, 92 F.4th 1312 (11th Cir. 2024), and took the opportunity to clarify the legal standard for establishing a claim of pay discrimination under the EPA.

The EPA places the initial

burden of proof upon the employee to establish a prima facie case of pay discrimination. This burden is satisfied when the employee presents evidence that her employer has paid different wages to male and female employees for equal work “on jobs the performance of which requires equal skill, effort, and responsibility, and which are performed under similar working conditions.” See EPA, 29 U.S.C. § 206(d)(1). Once the employee establishes a prima facie case, the burden shifts to the employer to prove that the difference in pay is justified by any of the following exceptions: 1) a seniority system; 2) a merit system; 3) a system which measures earnings by quantity or quality of production; or 4) a differential based on any factor other than sex. Id.

Baker filed suit in Federal District Court alleging that her employer, Upson Regional

Medical Center, violated the EPA by giving her a bonus compensation arrangement which was less favorable than that received by a male colleague. Upson conceded that Baker was paid less than the male colleague, but argued that the pay disparity was based on factors other than sex. Specifically, the evidence was undisputed that Baker was a physician who had been practicing for less than three years. She also lacked board certification in her specialty. By comparison, her male comparator was board certified with fifteen years of practice experience, and had not been sued during that time. Additionally, Upson contended that Baker’s bonus arrangement allowed her to become eligible for a bonus at a lower threshold of medical services than the threshold set for her more experienced male colleague. Therefore, as explained by Upson, a bonus could

be more easily earned by Baker “while she grew and ramped up her practice.”

Based on this evidence, the District Court granted Upson’s motion for summary judgment as to Baker’s EPA claim. However, while it found that Upson proved its affirmative defense that the disparity between Baker’s bonus arrangement and that of her male colleague was based on factors other than sex, the court also held that Baker had failed to rebut that defense with evidence that Upson’s articulated reasons for the disparity were a pretext for gender discrimination. Baker appealed this

had erroneously imposed upon Baker the burden of establishing that Upson’s reasons for the disparity were pretextual. The Court acknowledged that this error was due to confusion created by prior case law regarding the legal standard which should be applied in EPA cases. The Court stated that proper EPA analysis consists of only two parts: 1) whether the employee establishes a prima facie case of unequal pay for equal work; and 2) whether the employer can show that such disparity is based on one of the four defense exceptions listed in the EPA. Unlike a claim of gender

from employees who pursue EPA claims. Once an employee presents evidence of a wage disparity between herself and a male coworker in a substantially equal job, the employee need not prove that the disparity was due to intentional gender-based discriminatory motive. In order to prevail, the employer must show that the disparity was due to either a seniority system, merit system, quantity or quality of production, or some other factor than sex. While the “other factor” exception implies a catchall, many courts have held that the exception is not unlimited and rather applies to

Once an employee presents evidence of a wage disparity between herself and a male coworker in a substantially equal job, the employee need not prove that the disparity was due to intentional gender-based discriminatory motive. In order to prevail, the employer must show that the disparity was due to either a seniority system, merit system, quantity or quality of production, or some other factor than sex.

decision to the Eleventh Circuit.

In view of the undisputed evidence of Baker’s lesser experience than the male comparator, as well as a bonus arrangement which made it easier for Baker to earn a bonus at a lower threshold of services, the Eleventh Circuit agreed that the District Court correctly found that the bonus compensation disparity was based on “factors other than sex.” Therefore, Upson successfully proved its affirmative defense under the EPA. For this reason, the Eleventh Circuit affirmed summary judgment in favor of Upson as to Baker’s EPA claim. However, the Eleventh Circuit also found that the District Court

discrimination under Title VII of the Civil Rights Act, the Court emphasized that an employee is not required to prove intentional discrimination under the EPA. Therefore, the Court held that such employee is not required by the EPA to prove that the employer’s reasons for the disparity are pretextual. In short, if the employee satisfies her burden of proving unequal pay for equal work, and the employer fails to prove one of the four statutory affirmative defenses to explain such wage disparity, the employee wins under the EPA.

Employers should note that this legal standard removes an additional evidentiary burden

job-related factors only. Employers should therefore exercise care when determining pay rates for employees, and especially those within the same job categories –and ensure that any pay disparities between men and women in such jobs are based on one of the four EPA exceptions. PDJ

Robert Meyer is a partner at North Carolina’s Poyner Spruill LLP. Meyer repre-sents employers in all aspects of labor and employment, including litigation before federal courts and administrative agencies.

F ourth A nnu A l

The 4th Annual Asian Leadership Awards PDJ Salutes our Fourth Class of

Asian Leadership Award Winners

For more than two decades, Profiles in Diversity Journal® has honored outstanding individuals who have blazed new trails, welcomed challenges, mentored others, advanced diversity and inclusion in the workplace and the community, and excelled in their chosen fields. We are honoring Asian Leaders with our fourth Asian Leadership Awards.

The 18 profiles that appear in this issue recognize and celebrate the hard work and impressive achievements of these Asian Leaders. Some of our recipients come from humble first generation immigrant roots. Others have not. But nearly every winner talks about how they are motivated to improve the lives of young people and others who are less fortunate in their communities.

Each award recipient has also provided us with thought provoking answers to some interesting questions and a personal essay that gives you more insights into the thinking of these multitalented and trailblazing individuals.

Welcome to PDJ’s fourth annual Asian Leadership Awards.

PDJ thanks you for taking the time to recognize all of the following multitalented individuals!

Kapil V. Pandit Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Howard University School of Law; MS, George Washington University; BS, University of Maryland, College Park

Company Name: Akin

Industry: Law

Company CEO: Kim Koopersmith

Number of Employees: 1800+

Your Location (if different from above): Washington, DC

Words you live by: Embrace the journey with integrity, cherish the people along the way, and lead by example in every endeavor.

Who is your personal hero? My Dad, mom and brother

What book are you reading? The Art of War by Sun Tzu

What was your first job? Office assistant in a doctor’s office and salesperson at a shoe store.

Favorite charity: ChadTough Defeat DIPG Foundation and Wounded Warriors Project

Interests/Hobbies: Spending time with my wife, kids and close friends.

Family: Amazing and inspiring wife, three fantastic children, and lots of extended family/family friends (It takes a village!)

Wisdom for work – and for a lifetime

The finest advice I ever received is best encapsulated by the following guiding principles:

Discover Work and Teams that Inspire You. After graduating from the University of Maryland and embarking on a career in the defense industry focusing on Supply Chain Management, Operations, and Project Management, I frequently met with a professor who had become a mentor. During our discussions, which often centered around my career aspirations over the next five, ten, and fifteen years, he consistently steered the conversations back to the reasons why I enjoyed my work and the people with whom I worked. This emphasis on job satisfaction and team dynamics didn’t fully resonate with me until years later. It ultimately guided me toward pursuing law school and establishing a career as a transactional lawyer. Now, as part of the Investment Management practice at Akin, where I have spent my entire legal career, I find that the stresses and demands of the profession are well balanced by the enjoyment I

derive from my work and the excellence of my team. This synergy makes it feasible to manage the complexities of being a lawyer, husband, and father of three.

The Power of Simple Gestures. These simple yet profound directives were instilled in me by my parents during my childhood. The true impact of these principles became starkly apparent during the numerous interactions I had at my father’s memorial service. My father, a civilian employee of the U.S. Navy for 27 years, was remembered by hundreds of his colleagues for his consistent smile, his genuine inquiries into their lives, and his ability to connect with them irrespective of their status within the organization. This experience reinforced the importance of these basic principles of interaction, which I endeavor to impart to my children. Regardless of the situation—be it a challenging project, transaction, or case—maintaining these human connections can significantly ease difficult circumstances.

Seek Out Mentors Within and Outside Your Organization. In the structured environments of corporations and law firms, mentoring is often facilitated through formal programs. While these are effective for some, I have found the most valuable mentorships to be those I actively sought both within and outside of my law firm. These relationships, varying in duration, have not only spanned different phases of my career but have also opened numerous doors, shaping my professional journey.

Demonstrate Leadership through Integrity and Leadership Through Action. Throughout my career, the principle of leading with integrity and by example has been a cornerstone of my professional ethos. By consistently embodying the values I cherish— integrity, dedication, and a commitment to excellence—I strive to influence those around me. This approach not only fosters a positive work environment but also encourages a culture of mutual respect and continuous improvement.

ASIAN Thomas Yang Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Columbia Law School; BA, Columbia University

Company Name: Akin

Industry: Law

Company CEO: Kim Koopersmith Company Headquarters Location: N/A Number of Employees: 1800+

Your Location (if different from above): Dallas, TX

Words you live by: The first third of your life you take, the second third you work, and the last third you should give

Who is your personal hero? My parents

What book are you reading? Since we read so much at work, probably one of my law school textbooks

What was your first job? Troubleshooting and building computers at a local computer store

Favorite charity: Asian Americans Advancing Justice (AAJC)

Interests/Hobbies: Wake surfing and e-foiling, a water sport

Family: Wife of over 20 years and a daughter and two boys

Hard work isn’t enough. To break through the bamboo ceiling, Asians have to be advocates for themselves and their community

Growing up Asian, we have always been taught that if you work hard, you will be rewarded. Hard work pays off. While this statement is generally true, Asians as individuals and also as a group, need to understand that working harder is not the answer to every issue and problem. Working smarter, developing and utilizing connections, and seeing the big picture are often the paths to a higher level of success that cannot be achieved through hard work alone.

Developing Connections

I had the benefit of growing up in a variety of environments – the only Asian family in a small town in East Texas, a boarding school in New Hampshire and college and law school in New York City. These vastly different experiences really helped me to empathize and connect with people from a wide array of backgrounds and perspectives. As a result, throughout my career, I have always benefited from my relationships with people. I was never intentional about trying to build a network to enable future success. I was, however, very intentional about making time for friends, going out even though I was tired from work, and maximizing the time we had when we were together.

Working Smarter

One of the greatest lessons I learned in high school was not contained in any book or discussion. I learned it from experience. It was instead taught to me without even knowing it. My school assigned so much homework and reading that it was impossible to do it all. Each student was forced to learn how to be more efficient. What should I read twice and what should I skip reading? If I concentrate on absorbing the class discussion, how much time will I save on work outside of class?

Seeing the Big Picture

I think when people are working too hard, it makes it exceedingly difficult to see the big picture. While it is important to have people at work who excel at completing each task and assignment, too often Asians are pigeonholed into roles where this is all they do. You cannot be a true leader or be placed in a leadership position without looking up from the hard work to see the big picture. Working smarter is not using work efficiencies to just do more work. Develop relationships – genuine relationships. Understand that if it was your idea, you will only get credit

for it if you speak up. Make sure you analyze whether there is a different, more efficient way to do things. Don’t be afraid to take risks. Don’t be afraid to fail. Understand that sometimes someone with a better relationship will get the promotion over someone who did better work. Spend time navigating office politics rather than just trying to outwork them. The squeaky wheel often does get the grease.

As a group, I oftentimes struggle with whether we have sacrificed the greater good for Asians for our individual successes. I think instead of stopping to fight every instance o f racism that we have faced, we have instead chosen to work harder – out work the racism. As a result, Asian Americans have individually been highly successful. We became the model minority. How can there be racism against Asians as they have done so well? Our success is almost used against us. As with everything, I suspect the right choice is a balance. As a group, we should continue to work hard, but we should also collectively stop and make sure we are making the right connections, advancing the right causes, speaking up when warranted, and considering the big picture for Asians as a whole.

Kail J. Jethmalani Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, magna cum laude, University of Michigan Law School, Order of the Coif; BA, Economics, Government, Skidmore College

Company Name: Axinn, Veltrop & Harkrider LLP

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Jeny Maier, Managing Partner

Company Headquarters Location: New York, NY

Number of Employees: 172

Words you live by: Act as if.

Who is your personal hero? I’m going to cheat and say all of my grandparents

What book are you reading? Heretics of Dune by Frank Herbert

What was your first job? Interning at a strategic communications management company in New Delhi, India

Favorite charity: Médecins Sans Frontières

Interests/Hobbies: Cooking, traveling, Formula 1 racing

Family: Amazing wife; no children

Hard work in the legal field is a given but don’t be afraid to be your true self as well

Reflecting on the professional advice I have received throughout my career, I have been guided by two complementary thoughts— hard work and authenticity. Over a decade ago, during an interview for a summer associate position, one of my now partners posed the question: “How do you identify the smartest person in the room?” The lesson was simply: you can’t. Success in the legal field is not the product of innate talent or raw intelligence alone. It’s the result of persistent effort, relentless preparation, and countless hours of practice. The path to professional achievement is paved with diligence and dedication. Hard work is not the sole predictor of success, however.

Equally important is the imperative of authenticity. Understanding one’s values and staying true to them, especially in the face of adversity or pressure. Authenticity fosters trust and credibility with colleagues, clients, and adversaries alike. It fuels creative thinking and innovative problem-solving approaches, forging meaningful connections through genuine advocacy. And authenticity breeds resilience by instilling a sense of purpose and selfconfidence, both essential qualities in a profession marred by high stress and burnout. Remaining authentic is challenging for many in the legal profession, given its deeply rooted traditions and the

pervasive pressure to conform. It is unsurprising that young attorneys, especially those from diverse or underrepresented backgrounds, often find it difficult to be their authentic selves. Without the support and guidance of committed sponsors and mentors, the journey toward authenticity can be fraught. But defying tradition and convention to embrace authenticity is precisely how one can pave the way for a legal community that values and celebrates diversity.

By championing both hard work and authenticity, individuals can carve out their unique identities within the profession, propel their careers, and shape the industry to mirror the diverse society that it serves.


Faustine Chan

Community and Business Programs Director

Education (degrees & institutions): MIM in Management, University of Phoenix; MA, Communication, Southern New Hampshire University; BA, Communication, Arizona State University

Company Name: Better Business Bureau Serving the Pacific Southwest Industry: Nonprofit

Company CEO: Matthew Fehling

Company Headquarters Location: Phoenix, AZ

Number of Employees: 120

Words you live by: Have empathy, gratitude, and respect for every position in the company.

Who is your personal her? My mother

What book are you reading? Spark: The Revolutionary New Science of Exercise and the Brain by Dr. John J. Ratey

What was your first job? Kitchen assistant at my parent’s restaurant

Favorite charity: Komen Foundation

Interests/Hobbies: Gardening, hiking, and playing with my dog

Family: Caring husband and two daughters

A lifelong learner finds no reason to stop now

The best advice I ever received was from one of my mentors, who told me to “always stay curious and never stop learning.” As a child, I loved exploring and trying new things. When something did not go right, I always tried to figure out how to do it right because I was curious. It sometimes took me more than a few times, but I loved learning and discovering new things because I challenged myself and never gave up until I had a solution.

Growing up in my family-owned restaurant, I learned a lot about food and how dishes were made. As I watched my parents cook, my curiosity was sparked about why certain ingredients were used in certain dishes while others remained untouched. This curiosity led me to help my parents more in the kitchen so I could learn more.

As I got older, I started to understand all of the roles in each organization that I worked for and how each one played a critical role in its success. I loved asking my supervisors questions because I was eager to discover how things operated. Problems always existed, but I learned that if I possessed a deeper comprehension of how the businesses operated, I could offer more assistance to my coworkers. Whether it was a problem that needed to be solved or just a helping hand, I always wanted the experience and skills so I could advance. myself in positions.

I understood that my driving force is my insatiable curiosity for acquiring new knowledge. I embrace the mindset of a lifelong learner, consistently honing my skills through workshops, classes, and any avenues that enhance my

efficiency in my role. Additionally, I derive immense satisfaction from delving into thought-provoking books that push me to reevaluate perspectives and adopt alternative viewpoints. I relish learning from others and embracing new challenges, striving for mastery and expertise in my endeavors. I firmly believe that the journey of learning is perpetual and there’s always room to further improve and develop my skills.

Because of my curiosity and willingness to learn, I have been tasked with important projects and increased responsibilities throughout my career, allowing me to prove my skills and be successful. As a leader, I encourage curiosity within my team and support additional learning to help my team develop their skills and passions so they stay engaged and can grow in their careers.

Darshak Dholakia Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Columbia Law School; BA, Yale University with distinction

Company Name: Dechert LLP

Industry: Law

Company CEO: Co-Chairs: David Forti and Mark Thierfelder

Company Headquarters Location: Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY

Number of Employees: Approximately 2,000

Your Location (if different from above): Washington, DC

Words you live by: “A person can rise through the efforts of his own mind; or draw himself down, in the same manner. Because each person is his own friend or enemy.” – Bhagavad Gita

Who is your personal hero? My grandmother for raising four children, successfully settling them in the United States, overcoming numerous challenges, and smiling throughout.

What book are you reading? Chip War: The Fight for the World’s Most Critical Technology by Chris Miller

What was your first job? Bank teller

Favorite charity: Doctors Without Borders

Interests/Hobbies: Science fiction, world politics, golf, tennis, basketball, University of Kentucky sports, playing instruments poorly

Family: My wife Dipa and our two sons, Arjun and Anand

Asians should not be afraid to let their light shine as they climb the career ladder

Within the Asian community, we typically are brought up to be deferential to our elders and to authority figures in general. While this principle certainly is important within our family and social life more broadly, it can be a hindrance in the professional world. One of the greatest challenges facing Asians in the legal and other professional fields is a failure to appreciate our true value and a reluctance to fight for commensurate recognition within our organization and field. We have made great strides in penetrating the legal industry in recent years with many prominent senior attorneys of Asian descent and many more rising up through firm, government, and in-house roles. It is all too common, however, for diverse professionals to become somewhat

complacent and have a feeling of “just happy to be here” because we finally are in the room with senior leaders when in fact our true ceiling is much higher.

When mentoring others, I encourage them to bring an aggressive mindset to their own career development. This begins with an honest self-appraisal of your abilities and professional contributions with the goal of identifying your weaknesses and improving them before they become potential obstacles for advancement in the future. As you improve your own skills, however, you also need to put effort into making sure that your increasing contributions are recognized and rewarded by others.

It is very rare for others to value you more highly than you value

yourself, so you must first embrace your own self-worth to set a high benchmark for yourself and how others should view you. This should not be confused with entitlement – you still need to work hard and develop critical skills to become successful in your career. Being very good at your job is a necessary component for success.

But too many times, simply being good is not enough to reach the true heights of success; you still need to sell yourself, both within your organization and outside of it. It can be uncomfortable to develop the ability to do so in an effective manner without coming across as egotistical, but the upsides of weaponizing a justified confidence in yourself far outweigh the risks of being too timid.


Education (degrees & institutions): MS, Mathematics and Computer Science, University of Massachusetts Lowell; MA, Music, New England Conservatory of Music; Artificial Intelligence and Data Science for Leaders Program at University of Chicago

Company Name: Fannie Mae

Industry: Financial Services

Company CEO: Priscilla Almodovar

Company Headquarters Location: Washington, DC

Number of Employees: 8,104

Words you live by: “You gain strength, courage and confidence by every experience in which you really stop to look fear in the face. You must do the thing you think you cannot do.” – Eleanor Roosevelt

Who is your personal hero? My mother

What book are you reading? Chinese philosophy book

What was your first job? Teaching piano at age 13

Favorite charity: Tzu Chi Foundation

Interests/Hobbies: Playing the violin, swimming, and cooking

Family: Husband and an adult son

We all know work is changing. Here’s how leaders and employees should prepare for a new world

The world of work is undergoing a significant transformation, driven by technological advancements, evolving societal dynamics, and changes in industries. This transformation is bringing about several changes in the workplace, including:

1. Flexible work is becoming the new normal, allowing individuals to enjoy a more accommodating approach to work. This approach blends in-office and remote work, and organizations can adapt to the demands of modern work while enabling employees to work anywhere.

2. Preparation for the future of work requires making smart technology decisions that support business needs. Modern business environments require agility, resilience, and support for flexible work. Teams need seamless information sharing to collaborate effectively.

3. As organizations transition to the cloud and pursue digital transformation, there is an opportunity to modernize IT infrastructure and consolidate and simplify infrastructure. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and automation will play an even more significant role in the workplace, leading to the augmentation of human labor with AI technologies, enhancing productivity

and efficiency across various sectors. Automation can foster innovation, empower people, and drive productivity across the entire organization. To fully realize the value of future work, organizations will continue to accelerate in automation, AI, and machine learning to serve up in context of the activity.

4. Organizations should prioritize employee mental health to support work-life balance and stress management. Additionally, health protocols in the workplace will incorporate measures to ensure employee safety and wellbeing. Diversity and inclusion initiatives will remain important with organizations striving to create more inclusive work environments, fostering a sense of belonging and equity among employees.

5. Organizations will focus more on sustainability, ethical business practices, and social responsibility, integrating environmental and social impact considerations into their operations.

As leaders, we can shape the future of work by embracing change, fostering resilience, and cultivating a culture of continuous learning and adaptability. To achieve this, we can:

• Increase productivity and drive innovation by staying informed about emerging technologies.

• Respond to changing market dynamics and evolving workforce needs by promoting flexibility and adaptation.

• Prioritize employee development, inclusion, and well-being to create a workplace culture that values and respects everyone.

• Embrace empathy and emotional intelligence to inspire teams and navigate challenging situations with ease.

• Champion sustainability and social responsibility to make a positive impact on the world.

Operational agility and digital transformation will be enhanced when people, processes, and technologies are well integrated to improve experiences for both customers and employees. Overall, the world of work is on a path of transformation, fostering innovation, flexibility, and a greater focus on holistic well-being and sustainability. The future of work is bright, and we should embrace these changes to create a better world for ourselves and future generations.

Geetha N. Adinata Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): J.D., cum laude, University of Florida College of Law; BA, Northwestern University

Company Name: FordHarrison LLP

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: John L. Monroe, Jr., Firmwide Managing Partner

Company Headquarters Location: Atlanta, GA

Number of Employees: 272

Your Location (if different from above): Los Angeles, CA

Words you live by: “In the end, it’s not the years in your life that count. It’s the life in your years.” – Abraham Lincoln

Who is your personal hero? My immigrant parents who came to this country with eight dollars to give their children opportunities and freedoms they never had in India. I will always be humbled by their sacrifices.

What book are you reading? Never Enough: When Achievement Culture Becomes Toxic and What We Can Do About It by Jennifer Breheny Wallace

What was your first job? Cashier at Panera Bread

Favorite charity: Food on Foot, a nonprofit dedicated to assisting unhoused and low-income people in L.A. with nutritious meals, clothing, and a fresh start through life-skills training, full-time employment, and permanent housing

Interests/Hobbies: Cooking, cake baking, Peloton classes, the Dodgers

Family: Husband (Harry); son (Kiaan, 8); daughter (Mira, 6); my dog (Conan, 9)

To get a seat at the table, speak up and claim it

As a child of immigrants and a woman of color who has achieved equity partnership, I am a clear example of what can happen when you have strong sponsorship and mentorship by a leader who looks like you. Representation matters.

As a brand-new associate, I had the great fortune of finding a mentor in my practice group leader. Like me, she was the child of immigrants and a woman of color, yet she demonstrated qualities and actions not often seen reflected by women I grew up around. Though I was raised with an unwavering work ethic and grit, I was taught to put my head down, work hard without “rocking the boat.” On top of that, I was a people pleaser. Typical “model minority” stereotype stuff.

As I started my career, this made it very hard for me to find and use my voice and express opinions that were different from others for fear that doing so would be construed as disrespectful to those in authority. My mentor was a Mexican American woman who entered the legal profession

during a time when there weren’t many women in the field. She did not start a practice group by waiting for others to hand her the opportunity or trying to please everyone along the way. She showed me that to get a seat at the table and the respect you deserve, you must speak up in order to add value and improve what you see. Personal, professional, and corporate growth can’t come from a bunch of lawyers staying quiet or surrounding ourselves with only like-minded people. My mentor helped me believe this and develop in a way I had not before.

Representation absolutely matters because if you see it, you can be it. Now that I am a practice group leader, I strive to create an environment where everyone on my team feels that their input and contribution is valued. After all, the whole is greater than the sum of its parts.

After college, I joined AmeriCorps (a domestic “Peace Corps” program in the US) where I explored issues of social justice and made no money, much to my parents’ chagrin. During that

time, I helped develop the educational curriculum at an under-served community college in Boston which was a gateway for new immigrants to the US. While it was a beautiful melting pot of cultures and languages, it was a vulnerable student population, and I saw first-hand issues of inequity in access to and quality of education.

I deeply believe in the value and promise of immigrants to our country because of this experience and because I am the child of immigrants. I pursued law school and a career as an immigration lawyer to help U.S. companies find ways to hire talented and deserving foreign nationals. In this way, I am proud to play a part in helping immigrants open doors, access job opportunities, and fulfill their potential, which can be life changing. Though the U.S. immigration legal framework has not changed in a long time due to its politically divisive nature, it is a critical tool for improving the U.S. economy because we can fill labor shortages in both critical infrastructure and cutting-edge fields with global talent.

ASIAN Judy Huie

Education (degrees & institutions): MS, Finance, American University; BS, Accounting, Virginia Tech

Company Name: Freddie Mac

Industry: Financial Services

Company CEO: Mike Hutchins (Interim)

Company Headquarters Location: McLean, VA

Number of Employees: 7,939

Words you live by: “Am I able to look at myself in the mirror at night?” This helps keep me grounded and true to my value system.

Who is your personal hero? My mom and my daughter. My mom raised me basically as a single mom — defying traditional Chinese upbringing and culture. She also worked hard to ensure that I had everything I needed. My daughter also has this strong, confident spirit. I hope that she can stay true to herself as she navigates the challenges that life will surely bring.

What book are you reading? I spend my spare time watching Chinese dramas to keep up with my Mandarin.

What was your first job? Retail

Favorite charity: Anything education-related. I believe in investing in our future workforce.

Interests/Hobbies: Hiking, learning about investing, handbag designing

Family: Mom Nana, husband Steve, Jocelyn and Landon


career begins with a first step.


be afraid to take it.

“A journey of a thousand miles begins with a single step.” – Laozi

My mom began the long journey from Taiwan to the U.S. when I was a young child. In doing so, she instilled in me the courage to take the first step toward accomplishing difficult goals. My mother’s journey inspires and frames how I approach my professional passion of making a meaningful difference.

Every journey starts with action — a single step. In my more than 20 years of experience, I have worked across internal audit, human resources and diversity, equity and inclusion divisions. In each role, my approach remains the same: take steps that deliver the right results. I am energized by continuously improving processes and treating obstacles as opportunities. One of my earliest challenges at Freddie Mac was creating and growing the HR operations team to be an efficient and

employee-focused shared services group that managed onboarding and offboarding, new employee experience, rewards and recognition and the corporate matching gifts program. A more recent challenge involved helping to build a new DEI division which included hiring staff, creating an operating model and developing a new DEI policy and strategy. Each of these opportunities required taking action: assessing time-sensitive situations quickly and accurately and ensuring different stakeholders were engaged at the right point in the process. To deliver the right results, I’ve learned it’s important to distinguish between results and effort, take accountability and lean on different perspectives and data to make the best decisions. If you’re lucky, you’ll encounter amazing people along your journey. It’s why I’ve stayed at Freddie Mac — the people. I enjoy helping individuals grow and I am passion-

ate about building teams. While I’ve led multiple teams throughout my career, one of the most fulfilling experiences was leading Freddie Mac’s InspirASIAN business resource group. Our programming celebrates the expansive Asian identity and addresses Asian homeownership experiences while also providing growth opportunities for Freddie Mac’s Asian employees and their allies. I’ve found that successful collaboration on this team and others I’ve led requires demonstrating trust, keeping an open mind and seeking understanding. It’s important to work together to set common goals and move together toward those goals.

Finally, every journey has a purpose. My mom set out to make a new home possible for us. Now, decades later, I’ve found a similar purpose and impact at Freddie Mac: to make home possible for millions of people and families across the U.S.

Education (degrees & institutions): MBA, Virginia Tech University’s Pamplin School of Business; BS, Engineering, University of Mumbai

Company Name: Freddie Mac

Industry: Financial Services

Company CEO: Mike Hutchins, President and Interim CEO

Company Headquarters Location: McLean, VA

Number of Employees: 7,939

Words you live by: “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it’s not open” and “Learning is a journey. We need to listen to one another and learn from each other.”

Who is your personal hero? My brother: At the age of 18, he was forced to take on the responsibility of providing for our family (I was 10). I owe everything to him.

What book are you reading? Grit by Angela Duckworth. It talks about the power of passion and perseverance to achieve success.

What was your first job? Operations engineer at a manufacturing facility

Favorite charity: Autism speaks

Interests/Hobbies: Volleyball, music, podcasts and more podcasts

Family: Mom, Dad, two siblings, two nephews, one niece, wife and the best son ever

Kindness, empathy, a generous spirit: Yes, those skills are part of being a great leader

In a leadership role, having high emotional intelligence (EQ) is a critical skill. For some people, empathy comes naturally while others need to practice relating to others, like training a muscle. At the core of my leadership philosophy lies empathy and adaptability. As the Vice President of Asset and Liability Management and Corporate Treasurer for Freddie Mac, I endeavor to view everyone for their inherent worth beyond their professional roles. Central to my approach is advocating for the needs of all employees, especially those needs that may be less visible. By prioritizing inclusivity and accommodating diverse needs, I aim to foster a workplace culture that supports the well-being and productivity of every individual.

At Freddie Mac, we are fortunate to operate in a diverse landscape, where the varying dimensions of diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) contribute to a corporate culture where everyone is encouraged to bring their authentic selves to work. Over the past 19 years at the company, I have learned that building a team

with diverse perspectives leads to stronger decision making and better business outcomes.

Our differences, both seen and unseen, help us to fulfill our mission of making home possible for millions of Americans. I am steadfastly dedicated to DEI, and as the executive sponsor of the Abilities Business Resource Group at Freddie Mac, I get to contribute to a culture where every voice is heard and valued. I believe that diverse talents and perspectives of each individual enrich our collective tapestry, and through championing inclusivity, I strive to create an environment where everyone can flourish, regardless of their background or abilities.

I see every mistake or failure as an opportunity to grow and expand my thinking. The pandemic, for example, taught us a great deal about work, productivity and the need for flexibility. Pivoting quickly to remote work shed light on different needs for some members of my team. Recognizing the humanity of one another, that EQ, is what

separates man from machine.

It’s important that we, as leaders, have a good pulse on what the team needs, and what an individual needs to chart their own path to success. That EQ will serve leaders well. While some employees may ask for what they need, others may not want to share their situation. Leaders must develop enough EQ to understand what’s going on, ask the right questions and then strive to provide tools to help them be the best version of themselves. I live by the motto: You are never as good as your best day; you are never as bad as your worst day. That compassion should extend to your team, your colleagues and back to yourself, as well.

Yes, we all have expectations to meet and goals to achieve, but we are so much more than what we produce. Ultimately, our assessment of others should extend beyond mere output. Recognizing our shared humanity, with its inherent fluctuations, underscores the importance of kindness and empathy in our judgments of others.

Rosaleen Chou Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD cum laude, Georgia State University of Law; BA, Economics, University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, highest distinction

Company Name: Knobbe Martens Olson & Bear, LLP

Industry: Intellectual Property Law

Company CEO: Steven Nataupsky, Managing Partner

Company Headquarters Location: Irvine, California

Number of Employees: 651

Your Location (if different from above): San Francisco, CA

Words you live by: Love what you do

Who is your personal hero? Grandma

What book are you reading? Currently reading Don’t Let the Pigeon Drive the Bus by Mo Willems with my son

What was your first job? Retail clothing sales

Favorite charity: Love & Second Chances Rescue

Interests/Hobbies: Skiing, cooking, watching Asian dramas

Family: Yoshi Matsuzawa (husband), Ashton Matsuzawa (son, 5 years old), Zoey (dog, 8 years old)

Confidence and resilience builds strong diverse lawyers

Resilience. It’s the core piece of advice that I give young lawyers in the profession when they ask what I think it takes to succeed in the legal profession. In my opinion, resilience is very important in the career journey of a lawyer. There are many career ups and downs, roadblocks, and difficulties along the path. Navigating different career paths or transitions, whether it’s difficulties as an associate working in Big Law, making partner, learning to become an in-house attorney, getting a promotion in-house, or becoming a general counsel, there are so many different career inflection points for a lawyer and I have experienced many. It takes perseverance to not just survive but enjoy the rollercoaster that this industry can be, and maintaining a positive outlook about your career and personal growth is paramount. The easy path of the status quo feels like giving

up or not pushing oneself, however, for career and personal growth, it’s important to push ourselves to new heights and tackle new experiences, overcoming our own weaknesses


takes perseverance to not just survive but enjoy the rollercoaster that this industry can be, and maintaining a positive outlook about your career and personal growth is paramount. and self-doubts along the way. As a mentor once said, “The career path is a long one.” This is a long game approach and it requires patience, resilience, growth, and positivity if

you want to succeed.

The unique part of resilience is that only through hardship and experience can you develop this trait. As a second generation Asian American that grew up in the South, I have experienced a variety of situations that have taught me resilience from a young age. Throughout my career journey, I’ve come to realize how resilient my upbringing made me, and I’ve since committed to nourishing it. The same is true for many diverse attorneys and working professionals due to the lived experience of being diverse. When we can harness that trait and turn it into a power to help us overcome work and personal challenges, we will find the keys to our own success. I’m hopeful that everyone can find their own resilience from within and channel it into developing a long career that is fulfilling, meaningful, and successful.

Education (degrees & institutions): MBA, General Management from Harvard Business School; BA, Cultural Anthropology from the University of Chicago

Company Name: New York Life

Industry: Financial Services

Company CEO: Craig DeSanto

Company Headquarters Location: New York, NY

Number of Employees: 11,822

Words you live by: “Knowing is not enough; we must apply. Willing is not enough; we must do.” – J.W. von Goethe (then later Bruce Lee)

Who is your personal hero? My sister who, when life gives her lemons, may squeeze the lemon back in life’s eye

What book are you reading? The Friction Project by Robert Sutton & Huggy Rao

What was your first job? Red Cross swim instructor

Favorite charity: New York Life Emergency Assistance Fund Interests/Hobbies: Exploring food and culture in NYC

Family: Libby (wife) and Frederick (dog)

Don’t stop believing – in yourself and in others

I am on a journey to keep tackling “impossible challenges,” particularly when improvement means uplifting spirits in addition to business outcomes.

Why? Before I was taking on challenges, I was an impossible challenge.

Abandoned at birth, then bounced across orphanages, I endured extreme malnutrition and the damaging aftermath of survival behaviors. When I was finally adopted at 3 ½ years old, I weighed 16 lbs., unable to support the weight of my head or walk. My overall development was badly stunted; I had a hard time forming emotional bonds and would lash out at those trying to help me.

Through it all, my adoptive parents never lost hope; they never stopped loving me; they never let me see myself as a burden. They invested financially and emotionally when I was a “bad bet.” They offered patience when I needed an additional year before starting school, investing energy to help me learn and build strength. They continued

supporting me when I eventually enrolled in more advanced learning programs. To this day, it makes me proud that they saw me lift wrestling trophies and receive degrees from leading universities.

There are lessons I carry forward:

• Needing help is not a matter of weakness; providing help shouldn’t be a matter of convenience

• “Survival mode” can create deeper and more lasting scars than the original problem

• People often focus on functional solves; stepping forth from darkness requires the light of hope

Identifying hidden pains is a priority in my work. This often means dwelling where many have given up hope; change is especially difficult when it’s not a clear safe bet. I persist because there is goodness in creating lift, I have grown comfortable getting back up after a fall, and I enjoy gradually paying back my lifelong “debt of

gratitude.” This both consumes and re-charges my energy.

In this work, bringing empathy and action is vital. I know firsthand how damaging a “survive at all costs” approach can be – which can become reality when business lacks strategic investment. What if my under-development had served as proof of my unworthiness? My life has prepared me to bring a “duty of care commitment” in supporting the human side of business challenges. Additionally, I bring creativity and storytelling to help people connect to larger meaning and build confidence to do more than what we thought was possible.

Lastly, while business outcomes matter, uplifting spirits gives my work true meaning. In my role, I want clients, agents, and employees to feel hope and confidence for an even brighter future. Alleviating pains and sparking joy create a self-sustaining ‘combustion’ to continually ignite my professional passion.

In this journey, I hope to never be satisfied, so I can always be fulfilled.

ASIAN Helen B. Kim Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Yale Law School; MM, The Juilliard School; AB, Harvard-Radcliffe Colleges

Company Name: Norton Rose Fulbright

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Jeff Cody, US Managing Partner

Company Headquarters Location: New York; Houston; London

Number of Employees: 7,309

Your Location (if different from above): Los Angeles, CA

Words you live by: As a litigator, I warn opposing counsel that “what goes around, comes around.” And I stick to that.

Who is your personal hero? My parents, who immigrated to this country, without knowing the language and with little money, to create a better life for the family they hoped to build. I have always admired my parents for their courage and the sacrifices they made for their children.

What book are you reading? On Earth We’re Briefly Gorgeous by Ocean Vuong

What was your first job? My first job was in high school working at the student store.

Favorite charity: The Asian American Justice Center, whose mission is to advance civil and human rights of Asian Americans and to build and promote a fair and equitable society for all. AAJC has been a tremendous voice for the Asian American community, particularly in response to anti-Asian hate violence.

Interests/Hobbies: My primary interest is classical piano and chamber music.

Family: I have a wonderful husband, two stepsons, a biological daughter and son, as well as a niece whom I raised from infancy.

Playing classical piano on the stage has


her a better lawyer in the courtroom

I think people would be surprised to learn that I am a classically trained pianist. I was a music major at Harvard and seriously considered a possible career in classical music. After college, I studied with Adele Marcus at The Juilliard School, where I received a Master’s degree in Classical Piano Performance. I enjoyed my training at Juilliard very much and was successful during my time there, winning the William Petschek prize, which resulted in a full merit scholarship and offered the opportunity to give a full recital at Alice Tully Hall. But I still had to take out student loans to pay for food and rent while studying at Juilliard, and I had no idea how I would repay that student debt after

graduation. I ultimately decided that being independent and selfsufficient were more important to me at that point in my life than pursuing a career as a concert pianist, so I switched career paths and went to law school, graduating from Yale Law School three years later. I figured that, even if I didn’t pursue a career in music, I’d always have my music in my life; I just wouldn’t make music my profession.

I believe many aspects of my musical training have helped me in my career as a litigator. Discipline, hard work, thorough preparation and the ability to thrive and perform under pressure are all attributes that have helped me to succeed in both music and in the law.

Now, I have returned to classical piano playing as my form of meditation and relaxation. I belong to a couple of chamber music groups – a piano trio and piano quartet. I try to perform, either with one of my chamber music groups or solo, when I can. This year, on June 22, I’m scheduled to perform the last movement of Beethoven’s Emperor Concerto with the Los Angeles Lawyers’ Philharmonic at the Walt Disney Concert Hall in Los Angeles. I’m very excited about that. The piano has continued to serve as a fulfilling form of joy in my life, along with a form of artistic expression and a powerful stress reliever from my active litigation practice.

Li Zhu Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, University of Minnesota Law School; University of California, San Diego (Bioengineering Pre-Medical) Robins Kaplan LLP

Company Headquarters Location: Minneapolis, MN 600+

Your Location (if different from above): Silicon Valley, CA

“Be curious, not judgmental.” – Ted Lasso

Who is your personal hero? The person that I want to be for my kids

What book are you reading? Based on a True Story, Dune (guilty pleasure), (for our son).

What was your first job? Volunteering at the San Jose Public Library and putting

Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (join us at!

Family time, exercise, music, reading, and travel.

I have a wonderful wife (Lici), a 3-year-old son (Link), and an 11-month-old

His legal career is a love letter to his dedicated mentors

It’s impossible to talk about my practice today without crediting the great mentors I’ve met along the way. Two amazing people in particular – Michaela and Seth Northrop – have helped shape every stage of my life, starting from when I was a high school policy debater to becoming a law firm partner.

Michaela was my high school teacher and debate coach, and her husband, Seth, volunteered to coach the school’s policy debate program. When we first met, I was a socially awkward teenager who was scared of public speaking (I was only participating in debate for the mandatory class credit). But as the months passed – and with Michaela and Seth’s constant encouragement – one debate tournament became three, then five, then ten. Each experience helped me gradually develop confidence until I eventually overcame my deep-rooted fear of public speaking. Through debate, I learned leadership and critical thinking skills that have proved invaluable decades later. In sum, I had transformed into a slightly less socially

awkward teenager who loved debate.

Law school should have been an easy choice on paper, but it remained an abstract concept until a memorable conversation with Seth where he shared his own law school experiences. Both Seth and Michaela encouraged me to apply to law school – they believed I would succeed where I doubted myself (yet again). After being accepted to, and graduating from, law school, Seth encouraged me to apply to the firm where he worked (Robins Kaplan) because of their commitment to developing trial lawyers. I did, and we would go on to work on a number of cases together and go to trial together. I would advance to partner less than a decade later, on the back of Seth’s constant mentorship and staunch sponsorship.

Mentorship means meeting a person where they are and fully understanding their diverse background, their unique experiences, and their goals, in order to properly support their career path. I’ve come

to appreciate Michaela and Seth’s mentorship even more while working with younger attorneys in my practice. I’ve also had an opportunity to see other great mentors in action while being involved with the Silicon Valley Urban Debate League (SVUDL) – an organization committed to empowering students from low-income communities with meaningful access to speech and debate programs. I’ve seen firsthand how good mentors play a crucial role in inspiring the next generation of mentors. I can only aspire to someday be as supportive as Michaela and Seth.

I’ll conclude with an invitation: If you’re interested in mentoring the next generation of young leaders (and especially if you’re a former debater), I would highly recommend getting involved with your local Urban Debate League (UDL) at https://urbandebate. org/get-involved/volunteeropportunities/. For those in the Bay Area, please support SVUDL:

Qiaojing Ella Zheng

Managing Partner, Palo Alto and San Francisco offices, Asian American Litigation and Finance Practice Group Chair.

Education (degrees & institutions): LL.M. (Master of Laws), Thomas Jefferson School of Law; LL.B. (Bachelor of Laws), Zhejiang University

Company Name: Sanford Heisler Sharp, LLP

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: David Sanford, Chairman

Company Headquarters Location: New York City, NY

Number of Employees: 110

Words you live by: Make sure you are very courageous: be strong, be extremely kind, and above all be humble.

Who is your personal hero? My maternal grandfather

What book are you reading? Rich AF: The Winning Mindset That Will Change Your Life by Vivian Tu

What was your first job? Associate attorney at a boutique firm in San Diego

Favorite charity: YWCA Golden Gate Silicon Valley Interests/Hobbies: Travel, cooking, exploration

Family: My husband and my 3.5-year-old daughter


companies accountable for employee discrimination is her life’s work

As a civil rights and employment litigation attorney, I spend a lot of time listening to stories. These stories tend to be deeply personal accounts of the mistreatment and discrimination that occurs far too frequently in the workplace. People describe to me comments and actions ranging from micro to macroaggressions, disparate treatment in the form of exclusion and stereotyping, and wrongful terminations based on aspects of their identities that they cannot—and should not need to—control. They talk about the pain and anger these experiences caused them to feel, and the retaliation they faced upon bravely bringing up the problems to HR or the management. These are oftentimes the worst moments in people’s lives.

It can be very distressing to hear about all the atrocious ways companies treat their employees of color.

But my job is to not allow that distress to turn into passivity; instead, I aim to take in everything my clients share with me and convert their stories into a means by which to hold these employers accountable for their actions. I negotiate and litigate on behalf of individuals and classes with the goal of helping people reclaim their voices in the face of the very companies that attempted to silence them. My job is to do what I can to give people back their power.

In order to offer my clients the best representation possible, I have to look at their individual cases within the broader context of our deeply flawed society. I need an understanding of the different forms that discrimination takes, and the distinct ways in which various aspects of identity are stereotyped. I don’t tell the story of an Asian American client in exactly the same way that I would tell the story of a Black client,

because the systems that oppress Asian and Black people in this country are related, but distinct.

I have worked in Silicon Valley for over a decade and many of my clients work for prominent technology companies and financial institutions. From AI-driven hiring tools to algorithms that govern promotions and termination decisions, the potential for bias in these technologies is a growing concern. I always strive to stay abreast of the latest developments to effectively address discrimination and bias in the tech industry. I am very proud of having built a team that not only understands the intricacies of these technologies but also develops strategies to identify and address any discriminatory practices that may arise. The ability to effectively help workers, especially workers of color, in today’s rapidly evolving world truly motivates me every day.

Naomi Deines

Education (degrees & institutions): MBA, Bellevue University; BS, Business Administration, minor in Communications, Bellevue University

Company Name: Union Pacific Railroad

Industry: Transportation

Company CEO: Jim Vena

Company Headquarters Location: Omaha, NE

Number of Employees: 31,490 (2023)

Words you live by: Leave things better than you found them. Stay curious, learn, grow and transfer knowledge. “Attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”

– Winston Churchill

Who is your personal hero? Heroes (my parents)

What book are you reading? Ask for More: 10 Questions to Negotiate Anything by Alexandra Carter

What was your first job? Corn detasseling

Favorite charity: Conservation Fusion

Interests/Hobbies: Travel, golf & pickleball

Family: Husband Greg, married for 17 years & 2 dogs (puggles) Ziggy & Brody

A strong upbringing and a bevy of great leaders have kept her career on the right track

I attribute my career success to some traits that I learned early on that were instilled by my parents and grandparents as well as having truly excellent leadership and direct supervisors over the years at Union Pacific Railroad.

Growing up in my household, we were taught to be respectful of our elders, to listen to their experiences and learn from their wisdom. I recall being corrected as a child anytime that I interrupted or did not appear to be listening or was preoccupied. The traits of being respectful to others, a good listener and wanting to always learn and be curious has been essential to my success. Many times throughout my career these three traits have come into play when learning a new role or defining business objectives and goals as well as understanding the history so that the same mistakes do not get made a second time. Part of being a

good listener is getting clarification that you understood the speaker correctly, so it’s important to ask good questions.

My direct supervisors or leaders of my departments have been my mentors. I count myself very lucky to have had truly excellent leadership role models at Union Pacific and I have learned and grown in my career from numerous opportunities and experiences. I attempt to do the same thing for my teams, looking to provide good guidance, leadership and opportunities for my teams to develop, grow and learn.

I have had great advice and coaching over the years from my mentors, leaders and supervisors that has been very helpful. Here are a few:

o Always do the right thing for the company overall.

o Constantly communicate, collaborate and innovate.

o Find win-wins.

o Problem solving skills are a must.

o Understand others perspectives and objectives.

o There are always more good ideas & opportunities to work on than there are resources, so prioritization is key.

o Be fair, consistent and accountable.

o When delegating, have a specific “due date” for the tasks.

o Always talk through the “whys” and ensure you check for understanding.

o Be organized and have good time management.

o Celebrate wins and learn from mistakes.

Ray Guanlao


Senior Managing Director/ Group Head - Property Management, HOA, and 1031 Specialty Banking

Company Name: Webster Bank

Industry: Banking

Company CEO: John Ciulla

Company Headquarters Location: Stamford, CT

Number of Employees: 4,200+

Your Location (if different from above): Manhattan, NY

Words you live by: If you can’t control it and you can’t change it, then forget about it (my late dad’s quote).

Who is your personal hero? My mom.

What book are you reading? 10% Happier by Dan Harris and The Ride of a Lifetime by Bob Iger

What was your first job? Dunkin Donuts. I was up at 5 a.m. making donuts at 15-years-old

Favorite charity: Anything to do with metastatic breast cancer. My cousin who is more like a sister to me has been kicking cancer’s butt for 10+ years. She is another hero of mine.

Interests/Hobbies: Working out, anything on the water (beach and boating)

Family: Family is the core of everything. If my family is not happy and healthy, nothing else really matters. My wife of 10 years Kristy, my son (aka my best friend) Weston (9) and daughter (aka Daddy’s Girl/Daddy’s Perfect Princess) Whitney (6) and our dogs Max and Yoshi.

With mentors and high goals, this servant leader knows there are no limits to what you can do

Family is my ultimate motivator and I’ve been blessed to have many amazing mentors that have helped me along the way. When I think back to stressful chapters in my life, it was those relationships that helped me navigate through them. Once I was working seven days a week. Burnt out and a “fake it to make it” mindset was starting to show its toll. My wife helped me connect to resources that completely changed the way I viewed life and now I live each day with a “pay it forward” mindset. If I can do it, you can too!

Importantly, my mom is my hero in life. She has made countless sacrifices and has been the ultimate cheerleader my entire life in everything I do. She has been a constant source of inspiration for me to make her proud and to carry on my father’s legacy. They built the

foundation and I feel a responsibility to build on top of that.

Who you surround yourself with and how you prioritize are within your control. I was in the bottom 10 percent of my high school class. My priorities were clearly elsewhere. Through it all, I managed to get into college and changed my entire life trajectory. It was from a relationship that I built with a professor who shared an internship opportunity at a bank with me. 20 years later, I built a nearly $2 billion business unit from scratch with thousands of clients in over 30 states and recruited an amazing team of bankers to work alongside me. We are a family and all adopt a growth mindset believing that the best is yet to come.

My story is a lesson that there are no limits on what you can accomplish and we are only limited by

our own imaginations. Setting goals, finding motivation and relentless hard work are the tools to success. Because of this, as a servant leader, I believe mentorship is extremely important. It is very rare that we will come across a road that has not been well traveled before and it is important to have mentors to guide us in the right direction. One of my mentors told me that “he who travels forward without 3,000 years of wisdom is being foolish” and that has always stuck with me.

For my fellow Asians, I am excited to see our community work together to make an even greater impact on this world. Every day we can overcome obstacles and by continuing to challenge one another and make ourselves available as mentors, we will create an impact that will outlive us all.

Education (degrees & institutions): Panjab University, MSc. with Honors in Biochemistry Panjab University; BSc. Honors in Biochemistry, Panjab University; BA, Mass Communications, Panjab University

Company Name: Webster Bank

Industry: Banking & Finance

Company CEO: John Ciulla

Company Headquarters Location: Stamford, CT

Number of Employees: 4,200+

Your Location (if different from above): Southington, CT

Words you live by: “The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.”

– Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.

Who is your personal hero? My mum

What book are you reading? A History of Kashmir by P.N.Bamzai

What was your first job? Biochemical Analyst

Favorite charity: United Way & Samaj Kalyan Kendra Secondary School for visually & hearing impacted children

Interests/Hobbies: Watching old Bollywood & Hollywood movies

Family: A Great Dane called Raja, twin boys and husband (in that order)

Bias exists. Let’s work hard to see each other as people, not stereotypes

When I first began working in Connecticut, hardly anyone from India lived there. I felt like a curiosity, especially working at the bank. I was still uninitiated in American culture and had a lot of fun and some faux pas in having these conversations in “describing” who I was. I benefited from the beloved local Indian doctor in town. Just because he was from India, they transferred that appreciation to me.

As I progressed in my career and became an integral part of my community, I took it upon myself to educate those around me about diverse cultures around the world like mine, both socially and politically. I’ve taken the mantle of getting educated and imparting education in every opportunity that I get, both professionally and personally. I always look for commonalities and speak a smattering of various languages to

create that bond that showcases an interest in others.

People have a nuance, depending on who they are and where they come from, that may create a conscious or unconscious bias. For example, certain cultures are direct and others reverential. Their cultural communication style should not be the reason to prevent them from getting opportunities, without thoroughly understanding their strengths and challenges, especially with women. I was, and continue to be, particularly sensitive about how one’s culture may impede or improve others’ career growth. I have been proactive in executing and influencing the hiring of a workforce that reflects the community that we serve. We have changed perceptions by having people engage with each other and understand others’ styles with empathy and

radical open-mindedness. This has helped people understand their colleagues as a person and not create personas.

My advice is that we need to acknowledge that bias exists in various forms, having experienced it. We must engage in curious discovery, training, diverse exposure, personal storytelling, radical open mindedness. I tell my children, as they faced bias in school, that liking themselves was not about what they had done, but who they were, even if they are thought of as a little strange. Strange is interesting, strange stands out – and that can be good.

I’m excited about the progress I’ve made tackling unconscious bias and look forward to seeing how continued conversations about culture and upbringings helps build a cultural ethos that fosters commonalities and celebrates differences.


Nora Passamaneck

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Boston University School of Law; BA, Biology, New York University

Company Name: WilmerHale

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Anjan Sahni

Company Headquarters Location: Boston and Washington, DC

Your Location (if different from above): Denver, CO

Words you live by: Take time to smell the roses

Who is your personal hero? It’s a tie between my mom and my dad.

What book are you reading? Four Treasures of the Sky by Jenny Tinghui Zhang

What was your first job? Chimney sweep

Favorite charity: GrowHaus — community-led food justice

Interests/Hobbies: Mushroom foraging, live music, stargazing

Family: Married for 24 years, two rescue pups; Mom just down the block

Finding meaning, mentors and setting goals is the path to success in law

I love practicing law – it is a constantly-changing puzzle that I work on with people who are almost always smarter than me. At the same time, work can be stressful, lonely, and all-consuming. Everyone’s path is different, but I attribute my success and happiness to these general principles:

1. Be yourself. When I first started practicing law, I had no idea how to be a lawyer. I felt alone because I did not look like everyone else and did not know any lawyers before going to law school. I felt like I was playing the role of lawyer, as opposed to being myself in a professional setting. If I had only known, at the start of everyone’s career nobody knows how to be a lawyer. Understand yourself, what you have accomplished and what you can learn by living in the moment. Stop worrying about what others think.

2. Take control of your career. It’s easy for the years to fly by without ever really evaluating how you want to shape your career. At the start of mine, I felt lucky to land a Big Law position that would help me pay my school loans. But I would not have been able to answer two simple questions: (1) What did you learn this last year? (2) What are my goals for the year and how am I going to achieve them? I now ask myself these questions every year, taking stock of what I have done, making specific goals, and determining a plan to achieve them.

3. Find true mentors. Everyone stresses the importance of mentors, and I would not be where I am today without mine. My mentors not only provide me with a sounding board and reality check, but advocate for me, push me out of my comfort zone, and give me tough

love when needed.

4. Create connections. Practicing law doesn’t have to be lonely. I feel lucky to be surrounded by people who are both brilliant and kind. I invest time in my teammates, my officemates, and the greater legal community. These connections create a network of support – whether I need help on an emergency project, a gut-check, or just a moment to vent.

5. Find meaning in your work. It’s perfectly natural not to feel passionate about what you do every day. I most enjoy working with a team toward a common goal and seeing my teammates develop their legal skills. I also find meaning by mentoring law students and associates to navigate the profession. These soft yet still critical aspects of my work are what make me want to come to work each day.

Beyond the Glass Ceiling: THE GLASS CEILING

My Ongoing Journey to the Boardroom

More than four years ago, I set out to join a corporate board. It was the logical next step in my 30-plus-year career as a healthcare executive and advisor to leading biotech companies, their boards, and their CEOs. I’ve attended and participated in many board meetings throughout my tenure as a company officer. I’ve seen firsthand and up-close how boards worked, witnessed the gaps in their knowledge, and learned how they could function better to provide the expected governance.

As a woman of color, however, I always knew getting on a corporate

board would be difficult. What I didn’t know was that there was another glass ceiling, one that stymies non-traditional board candidates despite the obvious business value their diverse perspectives can bring to the boardroom. Biotech boards too often chose men who are investors and corporate executives but not women who may be first-timers but who understand the business.

Despite this additional obstacle, I’ve learned a lot about networking, thought leadership, certification, and training during my journey to join a board. I would be lying if I said it wasn’t discouraging or disheartening at times. Then again, it’s left me more determined to

not only break through this second glass ceiling but also to help other women do the same.

A Bigger Tent Leads to Better Business

For decades, corporate boards — especially in biotech — have been composed of mostly the same profiles, over-indexing in men. That’s been changing, albeit slowly. Between 2016 and 2023, the number of women on corporate boards in the U.S. rose from 20 percent to 32.4 percent, according to the Economist’s glass ceiling index.

The primary reason: There’s more than just a moral case for greater diversity on boards, there’s a business case as well. In 2020, McKinsey & Company published a study showing that firms ranked in the top quartile for the gender diversity of their boards were 25 percent more likely to post higher than average profits than those in the bottom quartile.

Another study, published in 2023 by researchers at the University of California Irvine and the Copenhagen Business School, found that women attend board meetings more frequently than their male counterparts, are better prepared for them, and are more likely to ask tough questions.

“Our findings show that women directors appear to be less worried about how they are perceived…” the study’s authors, Margarethe Wiersema and Marie Louise Mors wrote in a recent piece in The Harvard Business Review. “Instead, they want the board to make the best possible decisions, period.”

A Rigid Definition of Diversity

There’s still a lot of work to be done on diversity. All too often, boards look to hire women or people of color, but they

don’t consider diversity of thought or diversity of experience.

For obvious reasons, many board seats within biotech go to their venture capital or private equity investors, who typically bring along their friends and acquaintances. They’re checking boxes and looking for certain phenotypes – like CEOs, CFOs, or those with backgrounds in science, development, manufacturing, regulatory, or commercial functions.

There’s still a lot of work to be done on diversity. All too often, boards look to hire women or people of color, but they don’t consider diversity of thought or diversity of experience.

I’ve experienced this box-checking. Over the past four years, I’ve been told by many people that boards aren’t looking for people like me. However, if everyone on a board fits a certain “type,” there are bound to be gaps in knowledge and experience. What can happen easily is that the big picture from an external lens of risk and reputation is not evident. And, if and when such issues arise, boards typically hire external firms — often at great cost — to reactively manage the situation. However, the “non-traditional” board member may have added valuable perspective to avert potential issues.

So how do boards expand their definition of diversity to make sure they benefit from diversity of thought and experience, as well as gender, race, and culture?

Creating true diversity starts with changing how the board recruitment process works. Most of the networks for boards are closed. It’s incumbent upon boards to understand and seek out potential new board members who add different value to their structure and purpose, and to work with recruiters on this effort. Moreover, recruiters are compensated in a way that doesn’t incentivize them to take the risks — or the time — to find truly diverse, first-time members whose skill sets and backgrounds might be best for businesses.

Breaking into the Boardroom

In the meantime, with the status quo firmly entrenched, there’s also a lot I’ve learned from trying to make myself an attractive board candidate. I’ve taken workshops and joined networking groups, especially those that cater to women. I’ve learned how to build my brand and create content, sharing my expertise on everything from how to attract biotech investors in a down market to the importance of building a good corporate narrative.

These are critical, substantive steps. Others are equally important, if only to eliminate artificial barriers. Once, a male board member asked me if I had a board governance certification. In turn, I asked him if he had a certification, and he just smiled uncomfortably. Men do not pose this question — or demand this requirement — of other men. Nevertheless, I became certified in global corporate board governance.

Until I break into the corporate boardroom, it’s important to stay active and gain additional experience to expand my portfolio – this is advice I give to anyone on the same journey. I’m currently an advisor to healthcare investment firms and CEOs on strate-

I’ve taken workshops and joined networking groups, especially those that cater to women. I’ve learned how to build my brand and create content, sharing my expertise on everything from how to attract biotech investors in a down market to the importance of building a good corporate narrative.

gy, fundraising, IPOs, and other business matters. I’ve also joined the board of a non-profit patient advocacy group. That’s not for everyone – it’s a volunteer position. But it’s been a rewarding experience, and it allows me to help build this organization in many ways, as if I were a corporate board member.

What’s inspired me along the way are the other non-traditional candidates with whom I’ve connected. We’ve partnered to build our brands, share insights, and expand our networks. Through being more connected within this community, I’ve managed to help other women get on their first boards, so I know together, we’ll break into the boardroom and shatter this next glass ceiling. And the companies we strive to be a part of will be better for it. PDJ

Bari is a


and board member

biotech executive, strategic advisor
distinguished track record of value creation worth $40B through notable acquisitions within the biopharmaceutical industry.


In some respects, Diversity, Equity & Inclusion appear to be universally applicable and in other regards, we know the need for localisation. In Europe, DEI has its own distinct dynamics while we also see similar issues as in the USA. A good moment for learning and leverage.

What is Europe for you or your company? A regional market, a geography with specific legal regulations, the ‘old world’, a union with shared values or a patchwork of countries and languages? It could be all of the above. The European Union has recently held some key events that add to the picture: Europe Day (May 9th), European Diversity Month and European Elections (June 9th). They provide insight and inspiration for your Global DEI work.

What is it about?

What may sound similar to other National agendas is a reminder of EU particularities worth knowing. Europe Day celebrates the 1950 Schumann declaration as the foundation of the EU as we know it today. European Diversity Month is a relatively new initiative that pools Diversity Days and Weeks from across Europe to amplify DEI messages (in addition to International Women’s Day, Pride Month etc.). European Elections determine the composition of the trans-national European Parliament and are the base of a unique supra-national democracy.

How is it relevant?

These events include partly hidden D&I elements. Europe has managed to pacify a group of war enemies through a ‘political D&I process’ that still governs the EU. European Diversity Month is the festive side of a fundamental EU policy, its non-discrimination framework, which is the most comprehensive and consistent of its scale anywhere in the world. D&I is hence engrained in EU identity, yet in a different way than what we find in the USA. This raises the question if European initiatives should be a regional part of global plans or an inspirational, integral element of how we frame DEI globally? The latter is not obvious as most Diversity topics (race, ethnicity, LGBT, religion) require a strong understanding of the local context while only a few others (gender or age) are more universal but also not uniform.

(side)effects of celebrating difference

Regardless of globally or locally, celebrating differences is common if not paramount in DEI. The focus on difference – or marginalised groups –has had similar effects both in Europe and in the USA: Polarisation (support vs. resistance), competition (for attention and resources) and eventual cannibalisation, and increasing confusion about what the shared (DEI) mission or common agenda is. Increasing backlash suggests that DEI has not created the most effective message in the past ten years, and vastly diverging celebrations are (arguably) not helping to bring it back together. In fact, it might lead to further separation as shown in graph 1.

We can still consider two perspectives in this situation:

• Are we getting it right because we must provoke in an activist way and we see the need for the unaware ‘to feel the pain’?

• Should we tone it down to be(come) more digestible and start with low key images and messages to ease people into the journey?

While this might sound black and white, the two questions represent approaches that are not uncommon –and competing. The ENGINEERING D&I approach we have developed over decades aims at combining the best of both worlds.

Integration around the organisational agenda

In work organisations we focus on what brings and holds the system together: shared purpose, values and mission. This is what Europe did after WW2 to create a political system of unity in diversity. A focus on common traits provides a foundation that can carry diversity and promote equity and inclusion going forward. What sounds obvious is sometimes labelled inappropriate by DEI activists. One, because many do not want organisational objectives (but justice) to drive DEI and two, because many believe that a DEI must be anchored in difference/s in the first place. However, this should not happen at the cost of people feeling excluded or becoming defensive. Instead, helping people (i.e. everyone) to see themselves as part of DE&I may well be the biggest need going forward.

Creating consistent DEI approaches for each (organisational, regional or maturity) context is the other critical element required to regain relevance and traction. This implies to move beyond best practice templates or standardised approaches (like the latest ISO initiative).

The suggested focus on values and belonging as well as on alignment with organisational priorities and a commitment to joint performance (graph 2) creates a new base for everyone to join and progress together.

Take a closer look at Europe

Europe and the USA share some history and some current struggles. They are more similar in some DEI respects than what people think and more different in others. As DEI activities have multiplied in Europe over the past ten years and research and expertise are on a par, it is a good moment to come together and understand how to create more synergies and advance the shared DEI agenda. PDJ

Michael Stuber is The Global D&I Engineer with a European identity. He combines critical diagnostics and impact research into context-sensitive strategies and leadership support. He has authored 5 books and hundreds of contributions, including for PDJ

Sixth Annual

2 024 A W ARD Women Wor th Watching® in STEM

The 6th Annual Women Worth Watching® in STEM Awards PDJ Salutes its Sixth Annual Class of Women Worth Watching® in STEM Award Winners

We are proud to feature the 23 Women Worth Watching® in STEM Award winners for 2024 in the following pages. Nominated by a leader or colleague within the organization where she is employed, and selected by Profiles in Diversity Journal® based on her contributions, leadership, mentoring, and professional achievements in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics, each of these outstanding women is an example for the rest of us.

These women are standouts in their career. Many are pioneers in this male dominated field, outstanding mentors and strong advocates for women and minorities who are moving up the ladder toward upper management. They deserve to be recognized as role models and as leaders.

This is the sixth year PDJ has recognized women who have pursued, and excelled in, STEM careers with its Women Worth Watching® in STEM Award.

So, take this opportunity to get to know these remarkable women—learn about their personal interests and professional passions, and read their essays for some interesting insights and valuable advice.

PDJ thanks you for taking the time to recognize all of the following multitalented individuals!

Company Name: AT&T

Industry: Telecommunications

Company CEO: John Stankey

Company HQ Location: Dallas, TX

Number of Employees: 120,000+

Jush Danielson, Area Vice President – Indirect Technology & Enablement COE

Education (degrees & institutions): BS, Engineering, Purdue University

Your Location: Chicago, IL

Words you live by: Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness & self-control

Personal Philosophy: “Bloom where you are planted.” If pursued, joy can be found in every season of life.

What book are you reading? What Happened to You? by Bruce Perry & Oprah Winfrey. Table for Two by Amor Towles

What was your first job? Salesperson at a retail electronic store.

Favorite charity: Outreach and love your neighbor (both focus on the under resourced) Interests: Love the outdoors, travel, gardening, reading, cooking & entertaining

Family: Married to Jim (30 years in September!) and two daughters, Sasha (23) and Sumana (19)

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

Think about it... Science, Technology, Engineering and Math drives the world we live in today. It intersects most people’s daily lives. We are advancing technology at an incredible pace. Achieving progress is most effective when considering a wide-ranging perspective. There is an increased focus on STEM Education, efforts are being made to increase diversity and inclusion in STEM fields, STEM plays a large role in addressing global challenges and digital transformation. Ultimately, STEM is shaping the future and we need to ensure that our young people are equipped with the skillset to thrive in STEM careers.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

I am a firm believer that MERIT should always be the primary criterion for advancement. Widening the search net to ensure diverse representation, including qualified women, is crucial for fostering a fair and inclusive environment. Evolving hiring and promotion procedures to incorporate this approach is essential for creating equal opportunities for all individuals on their merits. And we must create opportunities for women to get involved with STEM at an early age as I stated earlier.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

It’s inspiring to see the progress made in increasing the representation of women in STEM fields. 30 years ago when I entered the technology industry I was almost always the minority in any meeting. Last year, my daughter started her career in the technology industry (way to go Sasha!). Her entering cohort was over 64% female! While there is still much work to be done, the momentum is beginning to build and I am encouraged.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career. When I started my career 30 years ago, I was definitely a minority. Today, I am still in the minority, but I feel supported and valued for my differences. My voice and perspective is being respected more than ever before. AT&T as well as many other organizations have built cultures that foster and value diversity.

What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2024?

To the young women out there who are considering a STEM career... do it! It is ever-evolving which makes it so exciting! And know that STEM NEEDS YOU. Your presence in these industries contributes to the success and innovation of companies by reflecting the diverse demographics of their customer base.

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM


Company Name: AT&T

Industry: Telecommunications

Company CEO: John Stankey

Company HQ Location: Dallas, TX Number of Employees: 120,000+

Sales System Engineer

Education (degrees & institutions): Roberts Walsh Business School

Your Location: Princeton, NJ

Words you live by: Laugh, love and live everyday to its fullest.

Personal Philosophy: Positive attitude. Surround yourself with positive people.

What was your first job? Cashier at a food store

Favorite charity: The Central Jersey Spinal Cord Association (CJSCA) founded by Kevin Hoagland.

Interests: Gardening, pickleball, reading, beach and baking

Family: My husband, Michael, and my two children, Chris and Amanda

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Having diverse role models in STEM fields can inspire underrepresented groups to pursue these subjects. Mentorship programs can also provide individual guidance and support. Also, training educators to encourage and support diverse students in STEM can help create an inclusive and supportive learning environment.

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

The world is undergoing significant changes in relation to STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics), reflecting the increasing importance of these fields in our everyday lives and in the global economy. There’s a growing recognition of the role that STEM can play in addressing sustainability challenges and climate change. This includes developing renewable energy technologies, designing sustainable infrastructure, and studying climate patterns.

As more women enter and stay in STEM fields, we might see a rise in the number of women in leadership roles, both in academia and industry. This could influence policies and practices to be more inclusive and supportive of women.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

As more women enter and stay in STEM fields, we might see a rise in the number of women in leadership roles, both in academia and industry. This could influence policies and practices to be more inclusive and supportive of women. With diverse perspectives in STEM, we can expect breakthrough innovations in various fields. The impact of women’s contributions could become increasingly visible and celebrated.

Company Name: Autodesk, Inc.

Industry: Design and Manufacturing Software

Company CEO: Andrew Anagnost

Company Headquarters Location: San Francisco, CA

Number of Employees: 16,000

Smita Rajmohan, Senior Counsel, Artificial Intelligence Platform

Education (degrees & institutions): Masters in Law, University of California Berkeley School of Law

Words you live by: Lift as you climb

Personal Philosophy: Be the change you want to see in the world

What book are you reading? A Spy Among Friends by Ben McIntyre

What was your first job? I worked as a background assistant for a Hindi tv show!

Favorite charity: Berkeley Law Fund which funds a ton of pro bono work.

Interests: I enjoy travel and adventures with my family and my dog. I also enjoy listening to live music, especially the guitar and violin.

Family: I live with my husband and my dog in the sunny Bay Area!

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

I’d suggest starting at the very beginning, during school. It would be wonderful to see young girls be encouraged to pursue STEM fields. It would be even better to see them as young women be recruited and (very importantly) promoted to positions of leadership within the STEM community. My favorite Ruth Bader Ginsburg quote is “Women belong in all rooms where decisions are being made.”

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

I think women are increasingly making an impact in STEM, especially in areas of artificial intelligence and data privacy. I only see us becoming a force to be reckoned with in five years. I hope to see many more women in AI development, AI protection and AI governance.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

In my many years of doing data and technology related work, I have noticed a considerable improvement in terms of the number of female CEOs and female technologists I see. I think women bring a perfect mix of emotional intelligence, pragmatism, level headedness and soaring ambition to the table.

I have been working in the technology sector for over a decade in some of the most challenging sectors. I’ve loved being a business partner to some incredible companies and enjoyed wearing different hats as a data privacy and intellectual property expert. In my many years of doing data and technology related work, I have noticed a considerable improvement in terms of the number of female CEOs and female technologists I see. I think women bring a perfect mix of emotional intelligence, pragmatism, level headedness and soaring ambition to the table. Things are certainly not perfect yet, but I am very optimistic for the future. We are all winning.

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM

Company Name: BDO USA

Industry: Accounting

Company CEO: Wayne Berson

Company Headquarters Location: Chicago, IL Number of Employees: 12,000

Binita Pradhan, Market Managing Principal – Third Party Attestation, West Geography

Education (degrees & institutions): BS, Biology; BS, Accounting and Computer Information Systems, Bellevue University

Your Location: San Francisco, CA

Words you live by: “We make a living by what we get, but we make a life by what we give.” – Winston Churchill

Personal Philosophy: Think win-win; put yourself in the other person’s shoes

What book are you reading? Awaken by Raj Sisodia

What was your first job? Teacher

Favorite charity: Bay Area Rescue Mission and Ascend

Interests: Travel and reading

Family: I am a daughter, wife, and proud mother of a son and a daughter. My excellent team, mentors, sponsors, cheerleaders, and my amazing husband, parents and kids support me every day. They are the ones who lift me up.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Diversity is not only a moral imperative but a business advantage. Diverse teams are more innovative, productive and profitable; however, there’s still a significant lag in representation of women and racial minorities in STEM education and careers. How can we close this gap and foster a more diverse and inclusive STEM workforce? It starts with looking at the professional lifecycle – hiring, promotion and retention practices. Diversifying the talent pipeline means looking at where we’re engaging with potential candidates, the criteria for screening and interviewing, and the decision-making process. We should ask ourselves: Are we giving equal opportunities to all qualified candidates? Are we aware of any unconscious biases that might influence our judgments? Are we using objective and standardized methods to assess competencies? Another important step is to provide career development and advancement opportunities for all. This means investing in mentorship and learning, giving feedback and recognition, and sponsoring career advancement. The key to retention is engagement, and people feel engaged when they’re given clear opportunities for growth. Diverse talent means diversity of thought, which can result in better business outcomes. However, increasing diversity in STEM fields requires intentionality, accountability and action to create a workforce reflective of our communities.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

My journey has been both rewarding and challenging. Being the “only” can be lonely. When I started my career over 25 years ago, I was one of a handful of women – often the only woman of color in many situations. I chose to see the positive side: as the “only,” I stood out among my peers. I found allies and mentors who encouraged me. They taught me how to use my voice and perspective as an asset. It’s what has led me to becoming the professional I am today, as well as the national leader of BDO’s Multicultural Alliance. I try to pay it forward by mentoring and advocating for other women and people of color. I want them to know that they’re not alone and that they have the power to make a difference. Not everyone is aware of the challenges women face in STEM environments or how they can help create a more inclusive culture, so it’s up to us to educate. I believe that by sharing our stories – especially for those of us in positions to effectuate change within our organizations – we can bridge the gaps and build trust essential for growth and excellence in STEM fields.

Company Name: CCRPS

Industry: Pharmaceutical and Education

Company CEO: Amareen Dhaliwal

Company Headquarters Location: Jacksonville, FL

Number of Employees: 5

Amareen Dhaliwal, MD, MPH, Founder and CEO

Education (degrees & institutions): MD, Boston University, MPH American Public University

Your Location: Delray Beach, FL

Words you live by: Positivity, reflection, balance

Personal Philosophy: “Success isn’t about how much money you make, it’s about the difference you make in people’s lives.”

What book are you reading? Maps of Meaning by Jordan Peterson

What was your first job? STEM tutor

Favorite charity: National Alliance on Mental Illness

Interests: Painting portraits

Family: Engaged to my amazing fiancée who is also a physician. My mom is a physician and my dad is in a small business.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

To boost diversity in STEM, we need to tackle it from several angles. Starting with young minds, we can introduce more inclusive STEM education and mentorship programs that showcase role models from diverse backgrounds. Financial support, such as scholarships for underrepresented students, is key to breaking down economic barriers. On the organizational side, businesses and institutions should enforce fair hiring practices and cultivate a workplace culture that embraces and promotes diversity. This means not just bringing diverse individuals into the fold but also supporting their growth and ensuring their voices are heard and valued.

Lastly, enacting policy changes to combat systemic biases and encouraging collaboration across sectors can create a more level playing field. By addressing these areas, we can make the STEM fields more reflective of our diverse society and drive innovation through varied perspectives.

Companies are increasingly seeking candidates with diverse skill sets, including soft skills like communication and teamwork, alongside traditional STEM competencies.

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

The STEM landscape is changing with a strong push towards practical, hands-on learning experiences that better prepare students for the workforce. Companies are increasingly seeking candidates with diverse skill sets, including soft skills like communication and teamwork, alongside traditional STEM competencies.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

Uplift others and support other women always. We are our biggest strengths. I have had the honor of being supported by and being able to support other inspiring STEM leaders and you can notice the drastic difference in the way they think.

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM


Company Name: Dechert LLP

Industry: Law

Co-Chairs: David Forti and Mark Thierfelder

Company Headquarters Location: Philadelphia, PA; New York, NY

Number of Employees: Approximately 2,000

Hilary Bonaccorsi, Associate

Education (degrees & institutions): BA, University of Rochester, magna cum laude; JD with honors, The University of Texas School of Law

Your Location: Charlotte, NC

Words you live by: “Laughter is the best medicine.”

Personal Philosophy: Trust your instincts.

What book are you reading? Vacationland by Meg Mitchell Moore

What was your first job? Cleaning horse stalls

Favorite charity: American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU)

Interests: Biking, yoga, interior design, and spending quality time with family & friends

Family: I live with my husband, Justin, and Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, Birdie. My parents and grandparents were instrumental in encouraging me to work hard and push the boundaries of what’s possible.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

From a young age, parents, teachers, and community members should be encouraging girls to take an interest in and advance in subjects that may not be the ones that come most naturally to them. The failure to do that, and gender bias in the classroom, can adversely impact the self-esteem of very bright and driven young girls. This can cause girls to give up on their dreams of a STEM career before they even get started. The sooner we can nurture and celebrate all children’s educational aspirations and achievements, the sooner they will be able to learn perseverance in the face of adversity. Only then will we end up with a generation that is able to advocate for and bring their authentic selves to whichever career they choose.

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Women in all fields, including in STEM, need to be listened to and taken seriously. This needs to happen from the get-go, like it does for men, rather than after the woman has been “tested” or to make sure she is a reliable source of information. Inherent and unconscious biases often lead people (whatever their gender identity) to be skeptical when a woman is authoritative on an issue, particularly when that woman is disagreeing with a man. Unraveling this cultural norm will take time and effort.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

Women need mentors—whatever their gender identity—who will champion and support them as they seek to enter, and make their way, through STEM fields. Having a committed mentor gives women the courage to try new things and have a point of view. It also enables women to have the backing to develop confidence in traditionally male-dominated fields. Women need permission to be true to themselves and should not feel pressured to bring a more masculine energy to the table. Appreciating women for their credentials and their unique personalities will create a group of women in STEM who are a force to be reckoned with!

What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2024?

I am also extremely lucky to have worked at a law firm with a culture of respect, and to have had several mentors who I can only describe as “diversity champions.” Each has unfailingly supported me, my passions, and my career, and has allowed me to stay true to who I am, without sweating the small stuff. Ten years in, I am excited and optimistic about my future, and the futures of all women and people who want to pursue STEM careers.

Company Name: Fish & Richardson

Industry: Intellectual Property Law

Company CEO: John Adkisson

Company Headquarters Location: Boston, MA

Number of Employees: 1,200

Rae Crisler, Principal

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Southern Methodist University Dedman School of Law; BS, Biology, University of Texas at Austin

Your Location: Dallas, TX

Words you live by: There is no try, only do or do not.

What book are you reading? Parable of the Sower by Octavia E. Butler

What was your first job? Sales associate at Lucky Brand Jeans.

Favorite charity: Roam Wild and Reading Partners

Interests: Hiking with my family, trying new restaurants, and reading.

Family: Husband (Daniel) and two daughters (Jillian, 6; Rosalynd, 10 mos.)

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Early engagement is key to increasing diversity in STEM fields. Educational systems must implement outreach programs targeting underrepresented communities and provide access to STEM education and resources from an early age. This can include hands-on workshops, mentorship programs, and exposure to diverse role models in STEM. Additionally, integrating STEM concepts into school curricula can make these subjects more accessible and interesting for all students. Communities and companies play a crucial role too. By hosting STEM events and bringing professionals into schools, we can show kids that STEM is for everyone. Financial support is also vital—scholarships and funding can help level the playing field and ensure that no one misses out on opportunities because of money.

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Barriers to closing the gender gap start in early education. Societal stereotypes and cultural norms often discourage girls from pursuing STEM interests, leading to a lack of confidence and a perception that they don’t belong in these fields. Additionally, limited access to resources and role models, as well as biased educational environments, can hinder girls’ participation in STEM activities from a young age. Unconscious biases may likewise inadvertently steer girls away from STEM subjects, perpetuating the gender gap. Addressing these barriers requires comprehensive efforts to challenge social stereotypes, provide equitable access to resources and opportunities, promote positive role models, and create inclusive learning environments that encourage all children to explore and develop their interests in STEM.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

In the next five years, I see a bright future for women in STEM. With the recent surge in female enrollment in computer science programs, and the inspiring initiatives like “Girls Who Code” gaining momentum, I’m optimistic about the increasing interest and participation of women in STEM fields. These trends, coupled with efforts to foster inclusive learning environments and provide access to diverse role models, are paving the way for more women to excel and advance in STEM careers. I believe that by empowering and supporting women in STEM, we will witness significant contributions to scientific innovation and technological progress in the years to come.

A W ARD Women Wor th Watching® in STEM

Company Name: Fish & Richardson

Industry: Intellectual Property Law

Company CEO: John Adkisson

Company Headquarters Location: Boston, MA Number of Employees: 1,200

April Sunyoung Park, Principal

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, George Washington University Law School; BS, Biochemistry; BA, Economics, University of Virginia

Your Location: Washington, DC

Words you live by: “The brick walls are not there to keep us out. The brick walls are there to give us a chance to show how badly we want something. Because the brick walls are there to stop the people who don’t want it badly enough.”

Personal Philosophy: Happiness comes from enjoying the little things in life

What book are you reading? Business Chemistry: Practical Magic for Crafting Powerful Work Relationships by Kim Christfort and Suzanne Vickberg

What was your first job? Florist

Favorite charity: Compassion

Interests: Flowers, fashion, and golf

Family: Husband (Jaewoong) and two kids (Chris and Lily)

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

First, those of us who are already in the STEM field should continue to pursue our dreams to advance in our careers and represent women in the STEM field. Our continued efforts and presence in the field show young girls that there are professionals who look like them who succeed in STEM. Second, early exposure of STEM to young girls and the introduction of different job tracks and possibilities to teenage and college students will also increase their interest in STEM.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

We have seen an increase of women in the STEM workforce over the years, and firms are actively engaged in retaining and mentoring young female associates. We try to encourage these young women and remind them of the values they can bring to the team. Firms are also promoting outstanding female attorneys to leadership roles. With increased awareness of the importance of having more women in the STEM field, and a rise in the number of women in leadership and executive roles at tech companies and law firms, I expect more women will be encouraged and inspired to join the field.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

I went to a science and technology high school, surrounded by hundreds of bright females interested in pursuing a career in STEM. Many of them went on to become doctors and engineers, but others left the field of STEM. I was fortunate enough to pursue my career in patent litigation since I first learned about it in middle school. I loved math and science, but had I not known about this job, I may have been deterred from pursuing a STEM career. I would like the readers and young girls out there to know that there are numerous jobs related to STEM, and there will be even more in the near future.

Company Name: Gilead Sciences, Inc.

Industry: Biopharmaceutical company

Company CEO: Daniel O’Day

Company Headquarters Location: Foster City, CA

Number of Employees: 18,000+

Anu Osinusi, MD, MPH, Vice President, Virology Head, Hepatitis, Respiratory, and Emerging Viruses

Education (degrees & institutions): MD, Medicine and Surgery, University of Ibadan; Master of Public Health (MPH), Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health

Words you live by: To whom much is given, much is required.

Personal Philosophy: Live with intention, cultivate courage in facing your fears, and let kindness, gratitude and authenticity be your guiding principle.

What book are you reading? Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind by Yuval Noah

What was your first job? Summer intern at a computer supply store (high school)

Favorite charity: Sickle Cell Hope Alive Foundation (SCHAF)

Interests: Spending time with family and friends, reading and music

Family: Married for 19 years to Tosin with a 10-year-old son Dami. I’m the middle child of five siblings with three sisters and a brother.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Opportunity is paramount. I believe talent is universal, but opportunity is not.

Growing up on a university campus, I was raised by two scientist professors who instilled in my siblings and me the values of purpose, impact, and education. These values motivated me to pursue a degree in medicine (MD) from University of Ibadan, Nigeria. However, my aspiration for a broader impact on global health led me beyond clinical medicine. With the support of my parents and a pivotal fellowship from the Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, I attended Harvard T.H. Chan School of Public Health focusing on quantitative methods and maternal and child health (MPH). Without these opportunities over the course of my career, I would not be where I am today. Increasing opportunities for STEM learning in inclusive environments coupled with mentorship, support networks and outreach programs from an early age that can foster diversity in STEM. Investments in STEM education and infrastructure alongside community engagement and partnerships particularly in under-served communities can have a profound impact. By implementing these types of initiatives, we can cultivate a more diverse and inclusive STEM community by harnessing varied talents and perspectives to drive innovation.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

Representation matters. Showcasing diverse role models and success stories help inspire and empower the next generation of women in STEM. As someone who has often been the only woman, and the only woman of color, in the room with other leaders, I understand the importance of representation. Nowadays, there are more women and people of color who can act as mentors to younger generations, and we must not underestimate the impact that has on those entering the field today. Building environments where we welcome authenticity and where progress is made across all the dimensions of diversity is crucial. This includes gender, race, background, experiences, and culture. Having a full complement of experiences at the table and an open environment where people can openly share their perspectives is truly how you unlock the power of diversity. Moving women forward in STEM also requires concerted efforts to address barriers and create opportunities for advancement. These strategies should include promoting STEM education for girls, challenging stereotypes and bias, and addressing advancement opportunities. Importantly work policies that accommodate the diverse needs of women in STEM are critical in creating a culture that values and supports women’s contributions.

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM

Company Name: GoTab, Inc.

Industry: Technology

Company CEO: Tim McLaughlin

Company Headquarters Location: Arlington, VA

Number of Employees: 46

Ashley Frausto, Director of Operations

Education (degrees & institutions): AA, Communication in Media Studies, Fullerton College

Your Location (if different from above): Los Angeles, CA

Words you live by: “When you stop growing, you start dying.” – William S. Burroughs

Personal Philosophy: At the heart of my personal philosophy lies a profound belief in the transformative power of love. Love, to me, is not merely an emotion, but a guiding force that shapes every facet of my existence. It is the compass that directs my actions, the light that illuminates my path, and the essence that connects me deeply to the world around me.

What book are you reading? The Psychology of Money by Morgan Housel

What was your first job? Urban Outfitters Retail associate

Favorite charity: American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals

Interests: Learning absolutely anything new, spending time under the sun, challenging myself to be a better person tomorrow.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

It’s imperative that women continue to encourage and support one another. I am a big advocate for women bringing up other women along with them as they rise through the ranks. Additionally, and this seems obvious, but companies must continue to create more opportunities for women to enter and excel in the field. Lastly, education is so important, and the more exposure children and young adults can have at an early age to STEM, the more likely they’ll take interest in the field.

Where do you see women in STEM in five years?

I think the trend of female engineers, managers and executives in the tech sector will continue to rise. In five years, I hope it is commonplace to see women leading STEM-focused companies or in STEM leadership roles across all sectors.

Lastly, education is so important, and the more exposure children and young adults can have at an early age to STEM, the more likely they’ll take interest in the field.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career. Working as a woman in STEM has been incredibly rewarding, and I am honored to be recognized for my role at GoTab. Every day is new and exciting, and I truly enjoy seeing the direct impact GoTab’s technology has on hospitality businesses seeking to streamline operations, drive revenue and improve the guest experience. I’m surrounded by an uplifting team whose hard work and dedication is inspiring and at the forefront of technological breakthroughs for the hospitality industry. As a woman in STEM, this honor validates that I am making a difference not only at GoTab, but also in the field.

Company Name: Knobbe Martens

Industry: Intellectual Property Law

Company CEO: Steven Nataupsky, Managing Partner

Company Headquarters Location: Irvine, CA Number of Employees: 651

Christie Matthaei, Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, The George Washington University Law School; BS, Chemical Engineering, University of Washington

Your Location: Seattle, WA

Words you live by: Seek to understand before being understood. Personal Philosophy: I try to live my life with both passion and purpose. I try to think critically about my actions before taking them and then pursue them whole-heartedly once my course is set.

What book are you reading? Currently, I read a lot of children’s books with my kids at night. What was your first job? Lifeguard, swim instructor, and swim team coach

Favorite charity: Our family has really enjoyed participating in the King County YWCA holiday giving programs.

Interests: My favorite thing to do is hang out with my husband and kids.

Family: I met my husband at a chemical engineering BBQ at the University of Washington. We have two young kids – Walton (age 6) and Pendleton (age 3).

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

I think people’s view of science, technology, engineering, and math are often shaped at a young age. This is true both with respect to whether people view those fields as exciting and fun as well as their view of their own capabilities in those fields. Exposing kids at a young age to different STEM fields and careers can be incredibly impactful in encouraging them to pursue a career in a STEM field. I think we can increase diversity in STEM by educating diverse populations of children about the opportunities and advantages of STEM careers. We should acknowledge and praise both aptitude and perseverance in STEM fields, and encourage children to pursue STEM.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

My love for STEM and desire to become a patent attorney started at a “Bring your Daughter to Work Day” at Pacific Northwest National Laboratory (PNNL). I was amazed to hear about famous women in STEM as well as women in my own hometown who were doing incredible things. I met a patent attorney in an elevator at one of those events and charted a course to get me to where I am today. After graduating from undergrad with a degree in chemical engineering, I returned to PNNL to work as a scientist before going to law school to become a patent attorney.

What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2024?

People often think of STEM jobs as mundane or boring. This just isn’t true. Jobs in STEM are as diverse and varied as the people who perform them. A degree in a STEM field does not necessarily end with a job in a lab. STEM degrees can lead to jobs in business, law, government, education, health care, consulting, sales, etc. The sky really is the limit. I love my job and feel incredibly lucky that I get to do what I do for a living.

Company Name: Latham & Watkins

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Richard Trobman

Education (degrees & institutions): University of Chicago Law School

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Increasing diversity in STEM fields starts with early — and equal — exposure to these disciplines for all children. As a parent, I get to observe firsthand how my young children take in the world around them, and how they latch on to the particular areas that excite them. STEM is one of those areas, but it can only be embraced by those children who have access to it. By introducing STEM concepts in elementary school, we plant the seeds of curiosity and innovation early on, and pave the way for a more diverse and vibrant STEM community.

But this approach hinges on the principle that equal exposure sparks equal interest, which provides a mandate for us to allocate adequate resources to schools, particularly those serving underrepresented communities, to ensure that every child can explore and engage with STEM from a young age. Early exposure demystifies these fields for young learners and enables them to see themselves as future contributors to STEM, breaking down the barriers that have historically limited diversity in STEM careers.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

Women have made great strides forward in STEM, and I’ve been lucky enough to work alongside many women in positions of leadership who make a concerted effort to provide robust mentorship to the next generation. But there is still significant progress to be made.

First, it is our responsibility to grow the base of women in STEM into a truly representative population. It’s not enough to replicate our current advancements for the upcoming generation. Teams must dedicate the time, effort, and resources to honestly assess their composition and structure, and then act on that information to make the changes necessary to promote equity. We don’t just want to see women present in STEM; we want to see them equally sharing in the responsibilities of leadership and influence in the field. Such representation doesn’t just benefit the women in question, but improves the whole team and their output by bringing diversity of thought, experience, and perspective to the work.

Second, we need to make sure the women in our field have the support they need. I’ve observed many women in STEM battle doubts about their abilities to thrive and lead. By acknowledging and tackling this issue head-on, organizations can empower women to see themselves as capable and deserving leaders, whether that’s achieved through supportive networks, professional development opportunities, or open conversations about self-doubt and how to overcome it.

Company Name: Latham & Watkins

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Richard Trobman

Elana Nightingale Dawson, Partner

Education (degrees & institutions):

JD, Northwestern University School of Law

Words you live by: First things first

Personal Philosophy: If not me, then who?

What was your first job? Assistant in a law firm

Interests: Things I can do with my kids—e.g., horseback riding; Rubik’s Cube and clock puzzle competitions

Family: Married with 3 children—ages almost 13, 10, and 2.5

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Enhancing diversity in STEM fields requires recognizing that diversity encompasses all underrepresented communities. Inclusivity cannot be viewed in a vacuum; we must be comprehensive in our approach to ensure the reflection of all types of diversity, from race to gender to disability, to name a few.

In so doing, it is critical that we find opportunities, such as the Profiles in Diversity Journal, to showcase both the myriad ways people can pursue STEM careers and the diversity of those who do so. The former allows us to challenge and expand the traditional narrative of what STEM careers look like. And the latter shows those considering STEM careers that there is a place in STEM for people from all backgrounds and walks of life.

Finally, it is incumbent on those of us in STEM fields to use our positions and the opportunities we have received to hold the door open for those coming up behind us. Whether that means taking a law student out for coffee, mentoring a colleague, or advocating for better policies, it is our responsibility to keep the promotion of diversity—in all of its facets—front of mind.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

I am not someone whose background screams STEM and, even now, it sometimes feels foreign to describe myself as a “woman in a STEM career.” That said, I think it is important to continue to highlight the myriad ways one can find themselves in a STEM career. For me, that meant pursuing a legal practice that I found interesting and fulfilling—that of a litigator who focuses on copyright and content-related matters. My clients thus include many of the world’s top technology companies, which I represent in matters involving everything from online platform usage to the development of cutting-edge technology. As a litigator, I frequently find myself having to explain my clients’ highly technical products and services to those, like me, who do not have a STEM background. In my view, that makes my non-STEM background a strength because I am particularly attuned to the questions that my audience—whether a judge or a jury—is likely to have.

My experience and path to a STEM career speaks to how moving beyond rigidly defined categories can increase diversity within STEM, and why STEM represents a big tent with room for an array of skills and perspectives. By changing the narrative around what constitutes a STEM career and how one might pursue such a career, we increase the likelihood that those looking at potential career paths see a home for themselves within the STEM field as well.

Education (degrees & institutions): University of Chicago Law School

Your Location: Washington, DC

What book are you reading?

A psychological thriller, and always reading it right before bed.

Interests: Baking, needlepointing, and my two dogs, Maxine and Miles

Company Name: Latham & Watkins

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Richard Trobman


can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Underscoring the importance of communication skills across all populations can benefit everyone, especially women and other individuals who wish to embark on careers in STEM, a field where the translation of complex technical concepts into accessible language for different audiences has become increasingly important. As STEM fields continue to evolve, they open up a multitude of pathways for engagement, from regulatory work to advocacy, emphasizing the value of interdisciplinary approaches and the ability to adapt and communicate across diverse platforms. This evolution encourages a more inclusive view of STEM careers, inviting individuals with varied interests and backgrounds to contribute to the field’s growth and application in society.

How is the world changing with respect to


My trajectory highlights a broader trend: STEM fields are no longer siloed into pure research or clinical practice. I began my career in a laboratory at the National Institutes of Health’s National Cancer Institute, focusing on applications of PCR technology. During undergrad, I pursued a double major in biology and religious studies. I then attended law school and began focusing on U.S. Food and Drug Administration regulatory issues during my first year in private practice. As a regulatory attorney, I constantly draw on my training in both the sciences and the humanities, and my practice regularly intersects with various sectors, including law, policy, and commerce, which offer new avenues for professionals to leverage their STEM education.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

To move women forward in STEM, it is essential to highlight diverse STEM career paths and show women and girls the many different ways that they can become involved in the field. Interdisciplinary education can broaden perspectives, and blending STEM and humanities courses can help students develop well-rounded skills. Engaging girls early in STEM-related education through age-appropriate presentations and hands-on programming can spark interest and confidence. Sharing stories of women who have successfully navigated careers at the intersection of STEM and other disciplines can also serve as powerful motivation for girls and women who are considering or pursuing STEM education and careers. Finally, encouraging women to take on leadership roles and increasing their visibility in STEM fields can inspire future generations. By showcasing the multifaceted opportunities available within STEM and supporting women throughout their careers, beginning with education and continuing with mentorship and early engagement, we can create a more inclusive and dynamic environment that encourages and sustains women’s participation and advancement in STEM.

Company Name: New York Life

Industry: Financial Services

Company CEO: Craig DeSanto

Company Headquarters Location: New York, NY

Number of Employees: 11,822

Tali Rosenblum, Vice President of Strategic Capabilities AI & Data | Head of Strategic Insights

Education (degrees & institutions): MS, Applied Analytics, Columbia University; MS, Accounting, Baruch College; BS, Business Administration in Computer Science, Baruch College

Words you live by: Lead with your voice for good; uplift, unite, and propel progress forward

Personal Philosophy: Dare to dream boldly, defy limits, and ignite change

What book are you reading? Your AI Survival Guide: Scraped Knees, Bruised Elbows, and Lessons Learned by Sol Rashidi

What was your first job? Website developer for newspaper publication

Favorite charity: The Koenig Childhood Cancer Foundation, which was founded by a girl who survived cancer and now supports children battling the disease

Interests: Volunteering, art (sketching, painting, sculpting), cooking, and reading

Family: Husband, Tamir, and my three kids, Lia (15), Ethan (12), and Emma (8)

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Despite progress in diversity, the Women in Tech Network forecasts it will take over a century to close the economic gender gap. In my varied STEM engagements, especially in cutting-edge data, analytics, and AI, the underrepresentation of women is concerning. This lack of diversity hampers innovation and talent, necessitating urgent change.

Indirectly undermining bigger progress are deeply rooted barriers and biases. Recently attending an Executive Women in Analytics event underscored this reality for me. Accomplished women from various companies shared their triumphs and tribulations, including pressure to conform to gender norms and lack of consistent support. Many felt compelled to overwork to prove their value, making juggling career aspirations with motherhood feel like a tightrope walk. Some find balance, but too often, women endure silently or leave, preventing their advancement, particularly into leadership roles and as mentors for future women leaders.

Bold action is imperative to lead the charge in championing diversity and fostering supportive environments. It’s time to break down the systemic barriers that stand in the way of women’s progress in STEM, ensuring equal opportunities for all to contribute and succeed.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

In a world rapidly being shaped by STEM, advancing women’s participation is a priority. This calls for proactive efforts to foster their growth—a responsibility shared among influencers, including parents, educators, and businesses. Together, we can make a real difference.

I command organizations like New York Life for their robust investments in programs that cultivate women leaders, demonstrating commitment to their success. As agents of change, every leader, every day, holds powers to drive bold and tangible change by setting an example, challenging norms, and fostering inclusivity. Carrying substantial weight are recruitment and advancement decisions, with dedicated mentors and sponsors fueling transformative shifts.

As a diversity and inclusion advocate and mentor, I aim to empower women by cultivating environments where authenticity is valued over conformity. Simply being yourself is an important reminder for women, who often cite being impacted by contrarian feedback or contend with unrealistic expectations. Embracing uniqueness is crucial, as it allows women to leverage their differences as strengths. To combat biases, it’s also essential to broaden perspectives beyond individual viewpoints. I advise women to establish over time a personal “board of directors,” creating a diverse ecosystem of insights and connections to enhance access to opportunities.

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM


Company Name: Norton Rose Fulbright

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Jeff Cody, US Managing Partner

Company Headquarters Location: New York; Houston; London Number of Employees: 7,309

Tamsen Barrett, Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, University of Pittsburgh; BS, Biochemistry, Iowa State University

Your Location: Austin, TX

Words you live by: “Be curious, be kind, ask questions and have fun.” I tell my kids this every morning before school and I think it works for most life situations.

Personal Philosophy: I can’t and I don’t do this by myself – the team is what gets us there. They make this job, and really everything about my life, possible.

What book are you reading? Currently listening to The Huntress by Kate Quinn

What was your first job? A hostess at a restaurant

Favorite charity: I donate a lot to AGE of Central Texas, which is a local organization that provides daytime care for the elderly.

Interests: I’m really working on expanding these! I’m getting back into running and swimming. I also like to travel with my kids.

Family: I have four great kids and an amazing partner. They make all of this possible. My kids are inspiring every day. We all keep each other on our toes, supported and laughing.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

It really comes down to traveling to the places where more diverse people are to make them aware of opportunities and options. Going to underrepresented communities, such as a community college to hit first-generation college students, or to historically black colleges and universities, can meet people exactly where they are instead of expecting them to find you. For example, my daughter, who is incredible at math, is at an all-girls school right now. Recruiting efforts could make a huge difference in often overlooked communities if you can reach out to the right people who are interested. I think it’s important to not assume these candidates will come to you, and that we need to make intentional efforts to be more inclusive. That ultimately will increase the diversity in STEM fields.

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Many of the barriers in STEM are systemic, including basing promotion and defining “success” on factors that do not necessarily motivate women and other underrepresented populations. These factors don’t accommodate the diversity that we would like to see. Often it leads to people believing a career in STEM won’t work for them and dropping out before they even get there. Of course, there are biases too, but the biggest barriers are systemic. To make progress, we need to see intentional changes, where we find the pieces that aren’t working for everyone in STEM and begin changing these aspects to be more inclusive instead of expecting individuals to change.

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

You can see the change coming as a result of the rise of AI evolving, with concerns that white-collar jobs like coding and design will be obsolete some day. But it is also making the jobs that are more hands-on and mechanical, like the people who are doing the chemistry in the labs or on the ground in facilities, even more indispensable. You may think of the person designing your next computer chip when you think of STEM, but it is so much more than that. STEM really is for everyone!

Company Name: PBG Consulting, LLC

Industry: IT Consultancy

Company CEO: Pawla Ghaleb

Company Headquarters Location: McLean, VA

Number of Employees: 165

Vanessa Soon, Formally, Chief Technology Officer – Now COO

Education (degrees & institutions): Master of Business Administration (MBA) and Bachelor’s degree in International Economics from George Washington University

Your Location: Virginia

Words you live by: Passion,boldness and grit

Personal Philosophy: Be a woman who forges opportunities. Blaze your own trail and stay true to your personal and professional values.

What book are you reading? The Phoenix Project by Gene Kim, Kevin Behr and George Sappford

Favorite charity: PBG Cares

Interests: Horses

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Increasing diversity in STEM fields requires a multifaceted approach that addresses systemic barriers and promotes inclusivity. Encouraging and supporting underrepresented groups, including women, minorities, and individuals from disadvantaged backgrounds, to pursue STEM education and careers is essential. This can be achieved through targeted outreach programs, scholarships, mentorship initiatives, and partnerships with educational institutions and community organizations. Additionally, promoting diversity and inclusion within STEM organizations, fostering supportive and inclusive work environments, and addressing unconscious biases are crucial steps toward creating opportunities for all individuals to thrive and contribute to STEM innovation. By implementing these strategies and fostering a culture of diversity and inclusion, we can create a more equitable and representative STEM workforce that reflects the richness of human diversity.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

In today’s era, more than ever before, advancing women in STEM requires concerted efforts to break down barriers and create inclusive environments. Initiatives like those at PBG emphasize that success in STEM is driven by passion and motivation, regardless of gender and the company plays a vital role in promoting equality. By promoting education and early exposure to STEM, challenging stereotypes and biases, fostering supportive environments, advocating for gender equality, investing in research and career development, and increasing visibility and recognition of women’s contributions, we can effectively move women forward in STEM and create a future where opportunities are truly equal for all. The perennial challenge for everyone remains the same: stay steadfastly focused on your mission, purpose, and passion. It’s this unwavering dedication that paves the path to success for women in this era and this industry.

What else would you like our readers to know about being a woman in a STEM career in 2024?

Women in STEM are achieving milestones that were much less common even a decade or two ago. Historically, women weren’t always welcomed into the “boys’ club” of industry gatherings like cigar nights or golf outings. However, in recent years, women in STEM have united to create more inclusive opportunities. Instead of being excluded, men are welcomed, but we are also taking a stand. The Digital Women-Owned Small Business Alliance is a prime example. Women are asserting themselves, saying, “If you won’t invite me to that club, I’ll create my own.” It’s an inspiring time to witness this shift.

Company Name: Pepco Holdings, Inc.

Industry: Energy


Women Wor th Watching® in STEM Tamla Olivier, Chief Operating Officer

Company CEO: Tyler Anthony

Company Headquarters Location: Washington, DC Number of Employees: 5,500

Education (degrees & institutions): Cornell University

Words you live by: Closed mouths don’t get fed.

Personal Philosophy: Do not go where the path may lead…go where there is no path and leave a trail. – Ralph Waldo Emerson

What book are you reading? The Darkest Child by Delores Phillips

What was your first job? Babysitting my next-door neighbor’s two sons — loved those boys dearly.

Favorite charity: Charities focused on assisting women and children: Ronald McDonald House of Maryland, Catholic Charities of Maryland, and the Boys and Girls Club of Greater Washington.

Interests: I enjoy singing (my daughters would say not well) and watching a good Netflix series.

Family: I am married with two talented and hardworking daughters.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Increasing diversity in STEM must be at the forefront of every organization’s strategic plan. Increased diversity will drive innovation and ensure a representative workforce that can tackle complex challenges and develop unique solutions. At Pepco Holdings, we’re committed to building a diverse workforce that reflects the communities that we work with. To do that, we leverage several tactics.

Early Education Initiatives: We work with local schools throughout our service region to introduce STEM concepts early to diverse populations.

Diversity-focused Recruitment: We partner with local Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) and sponsor local scholarships, teacher training, and curriculum development to help build the next generation of the energy workforce.

Workforce Development Programs: We work with local entities to train residents for careers in the utilities industry and help place them in jobs – ensuring our teams are representative of the communities we serve.

Partnerships and Collaborations: We collaborate with educational institutions, nonprofits, and other companies to offer additional STEM education and training to the communities we serve.

These strategies have helped Pepco Holdings create a more inclusive and diverse workforce that reflects the rich tapestry of our service regions and they can lead to similar results for organizations across the STEM landscape.

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

As the COO of Pepco Holdings, addressing the gender gap in STEM is an important goal for me. I see many barriers to closing that gap, but with dedicated work and focus, we can bridge these gaps and welcome more women to careers in STEM.

It is no secret that gender stereotypes and biases are still prevalent in society, which can deter girls and women from considering careers in STEM. I take my role and my platform as a female leader at Pepco Holdings very seriously and aim to serve as a mentor and open doors to career development and advancement for female professionals.

Systemic issues, such as inequitable access to educational resources and workplace cultures that are not inclusive or supportive, create difficult barriers for women to navigate. To combat these issues, organizations need to focus on comprehensive initiatives, including promoting diversity in leadership roles, implementing bias-aware hiring and promotion practices, fostering mentorship programs, and advocating for policy changes to promote gender equality in STEM education and employment.

Dismantling these barriers requires hard work, but once we do, we will create a more equitable and inclusive environment that empowers women to fully participate and strive in STEM.

Company Name: Robins Kaplan, LLP

Industry: Law

Company Headquarters Location: Minneapolis, MN

Number of Employees: 600+

Jessica Gutierrez, Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, Mitchell Hamline School of Law; BS, Arizona State University

Your Location: Minneapolis, MN

Words you live by: Speak up, even if your voice shakes.

What book are you reading? Stronger by Poorna Bell

What was your first job? Restaurant server at Ruby Tuesday’s

Interests: Competitive weightlifting, video games, knitting

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Culture is slow to change. In a field, an institution, or a company, culture is critical for retention. It is where we set the tone. Culture is reflected both in formal policies, as well as in team meetings and break room chats, and until concerted efforts are made to make organizational culture openly welcoming to women, the gender gap will persist. There have been recent strides made in recruiting girls to STEM subjects at an early age, but simply recruiting girls and women to join STEM fields is not enough. We also need a cultural shift, to commit to providing the tools and resources for girls and women to thrive in those fields.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

We cannot overestimate the importance of representation in leadership. At points throughout my career, I had the opportunity to see leaders who looked, in varied ways, like me. That representation and recognition is exceptionally empowering. We move women forward in STEM by ensuring that our leadership ranks reflect our workforce.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

My career in STEM began as a failed aerospace engineering major. I was the first woman in my family to pursue a bachelor’s degree and I did not have, or appreciate the importance of, mentors. I struggled with one aerospace class in particular. I happened to be the only woman in that class. Ultimately, I dropped the class and changed my major to civil engineering. I often wonder how my career might have unfolded with different resources.

After graduation, I worked as an airport engineer, designing airport improvement projects throughout the southwestern U.S. After a couple years, I went to law school, where my interests inevitably drew me to patent law. In both of those settings, I found myself one of only a handful of women—let alone women of color—in the proverbial room.

Over the years, I learned the importance of mentorship and I learned how to ask for help. I have been fortunate to find guidance, encouragement, and inspiration from many. I also learned the value of finding community with people who have had similar experiences. With those resources, I excelled. I found my home as an intellectual property litigator at Robins Kaplan.

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM


Company Name: Sandia National Laboratories

Industry: Government

Company CEO: James Peery

Company Headquarters Location: Albuquerque, NM Number of Employees: ~14,300

Dr. Emily Sandt, PhD, Nuclear Engineer R&D

Education (degrees & institutions): PhD, MS Nuclear Engineering, The Ohio State University; MS, Physics, Wright State University; BS, Physics, BS, Ed Secondary Education, Bloomsburg University of Pennsylvania

Words you live by: Don’t block the box

Personal Philosophy: Know your worth

What book are you reading? Educated by Tara Westover

What was your first job? Clerical worker at Endless Mountains Transit Authority

Favorite charity: Herrick Township Volunteer Fire Company and Bradford County Humane Society

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

Nuclear security lacks diversity due to its hyper male-dominated past. Through proactive recruitment efforts and safe, non-committal exposure opportunities, like internships, women with apt technical skills can be exposed to this exciting world. This vessel of introduction is leveraged by my employer but isn’t taken advantage of enough for nuclear security. Reaching out to nuclear engineering programs nationwide and creating portholes into nuclear security engineering sciences through seminars, career fairs, and internship opportunities provides a level of career opportunity awareness. It also demonstrates to young women that these positions need more women who are willing to voice their opinions based on sound technical knowledge and education. Internships provide the opportunity for women to begin building a professional network, contribute to projects in meaningful ways, gain confidence in themselves and their knowledge, and develop a close relationship with a quality mentor (or two or three!). These skills aren’t taught in books. It is up to the industry to make sure we are providing these pathways to success for our future female nuclear security experts!

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

I see more women in leadership roles internally at my company and in our customers’ hierarchy. However, I am often still the only woman with a technical degree or expertise in many working meetings. It is encouraging to see that women are being chosen for higher-level roles, but it does not address the challenge of being the only woman in a boots-on-the-ground working environment where peers can be dismissive or ignorant of your opinion and knowledge. This dynamic can be challenging to break and can sometimes be fostered by female leadership. Encouraging women to pursue more technical, rigorous, and challenging academic programs can assist in building a more representative foundation for STEM and nuclear security. When leadership meetings occur, leaders should listen carefully and ensure that everyone has an opportunity to speak. If they do that, then team members will have more respect for all opinions.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

My career path has been more dynamic than I expected, leading me to the field of nuclear security. I was fortunate to have role models along the way, both male and female, who encouraged me to continue my education and pursue non-traditional research avenues in my profession. While there have been challenges gaining traction in a non-academic and traditionally male dominated expertise, I refused to allow any arguments regarding my gender to play a role in my success. Lack of accepting such trivial excuses as to why I mattered less or my opinions were less important led to my ability to confidently repeat myself when spoken over, ignored, or silenced. I have also found that asking to meet other experts, getting exposed to new subtopics within nuclear security, and being an active listener has enhanced my situational awareness about the content area while simultaneously leading to more name and face recognition. Never underestimate the power of being remembered when you are the only woman in the room.

Company Name: SmartBear

Industry: Software

Company CEO: Frank Roe

Company Headquarters Location: Somerville, MA

Number of Employees: 800+

Vineeta Puranik, SVP, Engineering and Operations

Education (degrees & institutions): MS, Electrical Engineering; BS, Engineering, University of Pittsburgh

Words you live by: “You will face many defeats in life, but never let yourself be defeated.” – Maya Angelou

Personal Philosophy: Be authentic, and be my best at whatever I do

What book are you reading? Real Self-Care by Pooja Lakshmin, MD

What was your first job? Electrical engineer at Tata Electric Power Plant in Mumbai, India

Favorite charity: Volunteering at local art and music center, Parish Center for the Arts –

Interests: Yoga and acrylic painting

Family: A loving husband, a son and a daughter, and a dog named Bubba

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

First, increasing diversity in STEM fields is crucial to foster innovation, enhance problem-solving skills, and ensure equitable access to opportunities and resources for all. And, much can be done to facilitate this. Programs in and outside of schools, encouraging participation from everyone, need to begin in early grade schools. Society must cultivate a network of mentors, teachers, and professionals who can guide a diverse body of students interested in STEM. Establish diverse role models in STEM fields to inspire and motivate underrepresented groups of individuals. Highlight successful professionals from various backgrounds to showcase the possibilities and guarantee equal access to quality STEM education regardless of one’s background. where one lives or socioeconomic status.

Describe your experiences as a woman in a STEM career.

For me, it all began at home. I was always encouraged to study math and science from an early age. I was never held back or stopped from pursuing a career in STEM. My mother, a nutrition science professor, and my father, an engineer, were excellent role models. They inspired me and encouraged me to participate in science fairs. The whole family was excited when I chose an electrical engineering degree for my undergraduate studies, even though it was not a field many women pursued at the time. Post graduate school, I was very fortunate to have excellent mentors who opened technical leadership opportunities for me. To this day, I can rely on my mentors to support me and be there to brainstorm ideas when needed. Many times, in the technology field, you find yourself as the only woman at the table. Gender bias can be an impediment to your success. There are gender-based differences in management and communication styles. A supportive organization like SmartBear that advocates actively for women has made this journey easier.

Being a woman in STEM in 2024 involves resilience, determination, and a commitment to breaking down barriers. While progress has been made, there’s still work to be done to create a more inclusive and equitable environment for all aspiring women.

It means honoring the work of those who came before, ensuring opportunities for future generations. It involves maintaining a strong work ethic and inspiring other women to join these fields, which offer both challenges and gratification. It also means educating and partnering with your male colleagues to create change.

Like all other careers, women in STEM must find a delicate balance between family and career. While much progress has happened in this area, many barriers remain. Pay inequality, gender bias, higher stress and burn-out, and fewer leadership opportunities are just some of them. The gratification of following your dream makes any of the challenges worth conquering. With new and exciting fields that have opened with OpenAI, advancing artificial intelligence (AI) research and applications, we need more women in STEM than ever before.

Company Name: West Pharmaceutical Services

Industry: Medical device, pharmaceutical packaging and delivery

Women Wor th Watching® in STEM


Anya Harry MD, PhD,

Vice President,

Company CEO: Eric Green

Company Headquarters Location: Exton, PA

Number of Employees: 10,000

Chief Medical Officer,

R&D – Applied Research and Clinical Affairs

Education (degrees & institutions): Medical and doctorate degrees, Mount Sinai School of Medicine; residency, internal medicine, Yale University School of Medicine; pulmonary and critical care medicine training in a combined fellowship, National Institutes of Health/University of Pennsylvania Medical Center. Bachelor’s degree, Psychology/Biology, New York University.

Your Location: Phoenixville, PA

Words you live by: I have two phrases that I live by, the first, I don’t know who to attribute it to but it is “Our patients are waiting for us” this has been a guiding force for me. A more recent phrase that continues to inspire me is from Michelangelo: “I saw the angel in the marble and carved until I set him free.”

Personal Philosophy: My personal philosophy is based on my values including family, friendship, kindness, service, justice and life-long learning

What book are you reading? The Song of the Cell-An Exploration of Medicine and the New Human by Siddhartha Mukherjee

What was your first job? My first job upon completion of my training was working as a Pulmonary-Critical Care Physician for a community hospital called Holy Cross Hospital which is ~ 450 bed teaching hospital in Silver Spring, MD

Favorite charity: Nuru International who supports local community development projects with a goal to end intergenerational poverty in the most marginalized remote rural areas of Africa

Interests: Gardening, running marathons for charity fundraising and reading

Family: My husband Andrew Magno who leads the Sales and Marketing for Infors-HT USA Inc. My daughter Julia Magno who will be graduating from Phoenixville Area High School where she is completing their Allied Health Program and plays volleyball and will be attending Temple University to major in neuroscience in the fall. My son Luke Magno is completing freshman year at LaSalle College High School in Wyndmoor, PA, he enjoys playing bass guitar, trombone and tennis.

What can be done to increase diversity

in STEM fields?

There is no question that more effort needs to be placed on increasing opportunities in STEM for people of color and women. I’ve seen success with a few tactics to increase diversity, including:

• Visibility: Being able to spotlight role models and foster mentorship in schools and the workplace, as it’s difficult to be what you can’t see.

• Taking action: Establishing more associations and programs for proactive engagement with underrepresented groups that guide them throughout their career, not just in the beginning. These can be in the form of co-ops and internships during training and mentorships as part of career development. It is also key to emphasize the importance of cultivating a life-long network.

• Source and Fix: We need to continue to be vigilant and keep an eye on data to ensure we understand where and why we may be falling behind and identify what we can do to progress in the right way.

In engineering, while numbers of women have slowly and steadily improved over the last 50 years in the US, when you look at the job roles, a significant number of women are leaving or never entering engineering fields. Unfortunately, they aren’t promoted and remain underrepresented in leadership or end up in nontechnical roles. This is the type of data we need to focus on to improve.

In medicine, we also see a steady increase of women outnumbering men in medical school seen in 2017 in the US, however, there are specialty fields such as pulmonary disease, general surgery and orthopedic surgery where women remain underrepresented.

What can be done to move women forward in STEM?

One of the most important things we can do overall is to change the perception of DEI specifically in STEM workplaces. It’s important to raise awareness of the value of diversity in STEM fields and that there is a demand at every career stage including senior levels with final decision-making and budgetary power. For example, a recent study showed female patients prefer and have better outcomes with female doctors. We should continue to be more active in shining a light on this need.

At West, we have seen success in providing support annually to programs such as West Chester University’s Women in STEM program and similar organizations at the high school level. In addition, we have internship opportunities for underrepresented groups. Through this, a medical student from Howard University recently interned for West and was able to learn about medical device development before returning to her clerkships.

Lastly, we should understand why women leave STEM fields for other careers or take on administrative roles. We should focus on how our community can champion them throughout their careers and life milestones, such as motherhood, for optimal work-life harmony. It’s important to have strong collaborations and partnership between government and businesses, non-profits, universities, and professional groups – as these can be instrumental in identifying multiple paths forward and giving support along the way.

Company Name: WilmerHale

Industry: Legal

Company CEO: Anjan Sahni

Company Headquarters Location: Boston, MA & Washington DC

Number of Employees: 2,000

Vinita Ferrera, Partner

Education (degrees & institutions): JD, New York University School of Law; BA, University of Colorado

Your Location: Boston, MA

Words you live by: “Failure is a part of the process. You just learn to pick yourself back up.” – Michelle Obama

Personal Philosophy: Stay curious, and view every experience as an opportunity to learn.

What book are you reading? The Great Railway Bazaar by Paul Theroux

What was your first job? Cashier at a small retail store

Favorite charity: MSPCA

Interests: Traveling with family, playing with my family’s new golden retriever puppy

Family: I live with my husband, daughter, and puppy.

What can be done to increase diversity in STEM fields?

We should be developing and supporting initiatives to increase interest in and comfort with STEM among underrepresented populations at the elementary, middle, and high school levels. I read an article recently discussing a study which found that when STEM classes (math, in particular) involved more collaborative learning and demonstration of the social and practical relevance of the subject matter, students of color, in particular, saw higher grades, as well as increased motivation and confidence. To me, studies like this demonstrate the importance of providing more opportunities for team-based and hands-on STEM learning for underrepresented populations starting in elementary school. I would love to see companies and other organizations partnering with schools and other community groups to create such opportunities.

What barriers do you see to closing the gender gap in STEM?

Bias (either explicit or implicit) continues to be a significant factor in the disparity between the number of men and number of women in STEM fields. Girls are told they are better than boys at reading and writing. The implication of that (even if not stated expressly) is that boys are better at math and science. Studies have shown that when you ask girls and boys with equal math skills whether they are good at math, the girls tend to have a lower assessment of their math abilities than the boys. Believing that such skills are necessary for a career in STEM, girls are less likely to believe they will succeed in STEM fields and therefore less likely to pursue them. In addition, research has shown that girls and women gravitate to careers that they perceive as having more of a benefit for society, and that they do not view certain STEM careers (such as in mechanical or electrical engineering or computer science) as serving a social purpose. Changing these sorts of attitudes and biases is critical in order to increase the number of women in STEM.

How is the world changing with respect to STEM?

Emerging technologies – such as AI, virtual reality, and other digital tools – are impacting STEM, just as they are impacting every other area of our lives. It is going to be critical for students to be facile with these technologies. They hold great potential to transform the learning process, foster greater collaboration, and increase opportunities for students to gain greater exposure to STEM. At the same time, differences in access to these technologies has the potential to increase the digital divide between more and less affluent communities, undermining efforts to improve diversity in STEM. Similarly, to the extent that boys may be encouraged to experiment with these technologies more than girls, there is the risk that they may further increase the gender gap in STEM.

2 024


a Difference

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 13, 2024

With this award, we are highlighting prominent diverse lawyers making a difference in diversity, inclusion, and equity within their law firms, and for their clients and communities. The profiles that will appear in the pages of Profiles in Diversity Journal® will showcase their achievements in all areas of their legal practices, including pipeline issues, the need for mentoring, leadership, LGBTQ+ rights, access to justice, and more.

Where are they now?

For over two decades, Profiles in Diversity Journal® has celebrated the achievements of over 2,000 Women Worth Watching® within our magazine’s pages. In this edition, we reconnect with 23 past award recipients who have progressed in their careers, established their own ventures, embraced fresh roles, or transitioned into entirely different fields of pursuit. Much like all our Women Worth Watching® Award winners, they epitomize dynamic leadership, relish challenges, adapt to change, and generously impart their insights and wisdom to inspire the next generation of women. Dive in and explore the diverse paths their professional journeys have traversed.

Where are they now?

Catherine Soik continues to climb the ranks at AT&T. Now she is director of technology for the corporation. Profiles in Diversity Journal® singled her out in 2023 when she served as AT&T’s head of marketing development. Soik said in her PDJ essay she had learned to invest in herself and connect to others. “Each activity contributes towards your portfolio, growing benefits both inside and outside of the office – for you and your company.”



Where are they now?

Johanna Faries became president of Blizzard Entertainment, the American video game company, in February of this year. PDJ named her as part of Women Worth Watching® when she served as the general manager of Call of Duty at Activision Blizzard just two years ago. According to LinkedIn, Faries told the Blizzard staff in an email in January that she is raising two children, doing yoga and prayer and still playing video games, naturally.


Where are they now?

Shirley Dong is now AMD’s corporate vice president in system design engineering, another promotion in her 17-year rise at the corporation. She made her debut in PDJ in 2021 when she served as AMD’s senior director, systems design engineering. She wrote in her PDJ essay that leadership is lonely, especially for women but they should not give up. “Resilience is one of the most important characteristics that successful women leaders have.” She should know. She’s been practicing it for years.

Where are they now?

Linda Lam, an AMD mainstay, is now senior director, global corporate law and assistant secretary at the company. That’s a promotion from her 2020 position as director, corporate law and assistant secretary. Her 2020 essay gave practical advice for working mothers, urging them to put special school dates on their calendar and build support systems. The goal is excellence, not perfection, she wrote.


are they now?

Manda (Nelson) Tweten has been climbing the ladder at ADM for nine years. In 2020, she became president, strategic customers. Profiles in Diversity Journal® chose her for Women Worth Watching in 2019 when she served as vice president, customer value at the company. New professionals should accept being uncomfortable so that they can grow and gain confidence she said.


Where are they now?

Nekia Hackworth Jones is now the Atlanta Regional Director US Securities and Exchange Commission. She came to the attention of Profiles in Diversity Journal® attention as a partner with Nelson Mullins, Riley and Scarborough. In her essay, she came up with this gem: “Once you realize that you do not have to be perfect, you can truly enjoy the journey of life.”

Where are they now?

Divya Choudhary, a 2018 Women Worth Watching® winner, became dean of the Bailey College of Engineering and Technology at Indiana State University in 2023 after a national search. Profiles in Diversity Journal® noted her talents when she was associate professor of Electrical Engineering at Christian Brothers University in Memphis, Tennessee and became the first tenured female professor in the school of engineering. She was also the founder and director of the STEM Center for Women and Diversity at Christian Brothers.

Where are they now?

Vanessa Scott is currently vice president of benefits and executive compensation law at Albertsons Companies, one of the largest food and drug retailers in the US. She became a part of Women Worth Watching® when she served as a partner in the law firm of Sutherland Asbill & Brennan Washington, DC, Tax Practice Group. There she specialized in the Employee Retirement Income Security Act of 1974 (ERISA) and she served as the firm’s chief director of diversity and inclusion.

Where are they now?

Jeanne Finegan, now managing director and head of Kroll Notice Media, has had a fascinating career over the last 30 years. LinkedIn notes that she has planned and implemented over 1,000 high-profile, legal notice communication programs and that she is an expert in the field in the US and in Canada. Profiles in Diversity Journal® singled her out when she was president of HF Media. In her PDJ essay she promoted fearlessness. “Don’t draw boundaries of “I can do this” or “I can’t do that.” That thinking creates limiting walls and can have a negative impact on confidence.”


Where are they now?

Back in 2014, Jennifer LoBianco was co-founder and chief strategic officer of 8fold Integrative Creative Works. Now she is chief marketing officer of Best Life Brands. She wrote in her PDJ essay that “forging a career path is not always easy, but you can create your own opportunities to keep thriving. Always ask for more work. It doesn’t show that you are not busy. It shows that you want to learn—something every boss wants to see!”


are they now?

3M has been Gayle Schueller’s home for 21 years and her status keeps growing. Schueller is now senior vice president and chief sustainability officer at 3M. She was vice president, global sustainability when she was selected as part of Women Worth Watching® in 2014. It’s not the only promotion she has received. Since that time, she has been a company director in Mexico and vice president of new platforms.

Where are they now?

Savitri Dixon Saxon has risen from associate dean to vice provost for institutional effectiveness, engagement & academic performance at Walden University after a series of promotions at Walden and other universities. Dixon Saxon’s 2013 PDJ essay focused on the importance of mentoring and being a collaborative leader: “I usually try to gather other team members’ input before I make big decisions, but I know my role and responsibility in the decision-making process. Something my mother shared with me has carried me through life: People want to feel like they matter. Whatever they are experiencing is relevant and important.”

Where are they now?

Lynette Chappel-Williams, an award-winning health executive, is now vice president and chief diversity officer for Penn State Health, the first chief diversity officer at the multihospital health system located in 29 counties throughout Pennsylvania. She was selected for Women Worth Watching® when she served as associate vice president at Cornell University. Her 2012 PDJ essay focused on the importance of normalizing STEM careers for girls and women: “We can address these challenges by expanding STEM outreach beyond middle school, where efforts currently start, to preschool and kindergarten. As young female children are encouraged to pursue math and science, it will hopefully become more culturally “normal” to explore these career options as adults.”


Where are they now?

Dr. LaShardna Beckwith is the president and chief executive officer at Lutheran Social Services of Southern California (LSSSC), a nonprofit organization that serves thousands of individuals and families. In 2011, Beckwith was vice president of eastern region operations for the Army Navy Exchange Services, a system of stores for the armed services and eligible veterans. Leadership was on Beckwith’s mind that year and she wrote that “As a leader, I have the responsibility to see a problem that needs to be fixed or a goal that needs to be achieved … my focus is to give it some attention and to attack it with a single-minded determination.”


are they now?

Women Worth Watching® winner Janet Brugger is now lead business navigator, and quality jobs program manager for Colorado Enterprise Fund. Brugger is also an instructor at Colorado College and Pikes Peak State College. She was profiled for WWW when she held the position of student director at the University of the Rockies. Her father was one of her biggest inspirations because of his love of books and his wisdom, she wrote in her PDJ essay. “Believing in yourself, your team, and maintaining your values,” is the essence of being a great leader and strong human being.



are they now?

Robyn Denholm is now an active board member for several tech companies after a vibrant career in the tech field. She is chair of the Tech Council of Australia and board chair of Tesla in Palo Alto, California. The Australian became part of Women Worth Watching® when she was an executive vice president for Juniper Networks, a global networking equipment and software security company. In her essay, she wrote that “while confidence is good, you need to back it up, so gather as much experience and knowledge as you can.”


Where are they now?

Amparo Bared is an executive leadership coach at Bared Consulting Company, a natural evolution for someone who was part of the executive leadership team for Ryder System for 18 years. PDJ selected Bared as a rising star when she served as Ryder’s vice president of human services and talent management. She advised women in her PDJ essay that it was important to be “able to handle disagreements without taking them personally. At times, we have to take a tough stand and say things people may not want to hear.” Wise thoughts, then and now.

Where are they now?

Award winning executive Barbara Adachi, who helped Deloitte climb to a $250M business, is now delivering her hard-earned business advice as a board member to a number of well-known companies including VSP Vision and Old Republic International. Adachi wrote in her 2008 PDJ essay that she started her career as a secretary and she credited her boss with pushing her to become the first woman sales representative for a national insurance company, even though she was often the only Asian. Still, she persisted. “He not only was my mentor, but my teacher of business and life lessons,” she wrote. “His words, ‘never forget where you came from,’ have stayed with me my entire career.”

Where are they now?

Earlier this year, Factor, a legal consulting company, promoted Sandra Devine to executive advisor. Devine won her laurels with Profiles in Diversity Journal® in 2008 as the vice president of sales at Electronic Data System, an information technology company. Creating enduring relationships “is the investment one makes in developing lifelong annuities that yield unfiltered feedback, productive organizational insights, and help in mobilizing the right resources to get things done,” she wrote in PDJ.


Where are they now?

Kerry Carter’s career has been long and diverse. PDJ singled her out when she was vice president, B to B ecommerce in the Staples contract division. Now she is CEO and president of Hope and Comfort, a Massachusetts non-profit that offers soap, shampoo, toothpaste and deodorant and other hygiene items to people who can’t afford them. Carter told PDJ readers that in order to create her family she worked part-time at Staples at one point, owned her own consulting practice, taught at a university and worked remotely. “My advice to you is: Don’t be afraid to deviate from a traditional path. With the right planning and perspective, you can reap great rewards.”


Where are they now?

Terri Dean, a former Verizon executive, became the US EPA chief of staff for the Mid Atlantic last year. PDJ selected Dean as a member of Women Worth Watching® way back in 2006 when she was a senior vice president with Verizon Business, a company that she retired from in 2008. Her PDJ essay advised young professionals “to take stock of what you have been good at and, just as importantly, what area of the business makes you want to get up every day and do your best! Find your passion early and then craft a career plan that will afford you lateral and upward moves until you have reached your goals.”

Deirdre Drake keeps combining her two career passions: human resources and serving as a corporate board director. Currently, Drake is corporate director for US Cellular and Top Build and she was recently honored by Board Prospects, a board recruitment firm, for being a black board member who made a difference. Women Worth Watching® selected Drake when she served as senior vice president of human resources for Harris BankCorp. She discussed the importance of being a mentor and being mentored in her PDJ article saying “mentoring is important because it is a way to get honest, candid feedback without consequence.”

2006 Where are they now?

Where are they now?


Julie Gilbert’s career journey has been full and it is getting fuller. This woman worth watching has been a vice president at Best Buy, created a company called PreciouStatus that developed an app to connect families, and is now a partner with McKinsey and on several boards. She told PDJ readers in 2006 to “stay true to your character, values and beliefs. Recognize that you may be challenged and ridiculed if you try to change that parts from the mainstream. Stay strong; once challenges pass, you’ll learn from them.”

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Innovations in Diversity

SUBMISSION DEADLINE: September 13, 2024

Profiles in Diversity Journal® 21st Annual International Innovation in Diversity Awards honor organizations and institutions around the world that are developing innovative solutions for today’s pressing workforce challenges in the areas of diversity, inclusion, and human equity.

The awards showcase diversity success and discovery, and are open across all industry sectors and geographical regions.


2024 PDJ Awards Calendar


The impact we’re making today, will be felt for generations to come.

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