Paradigm for Parity® 2020 Women on the Rise

Paradigm for Parity
13 min readAug 25, 2020


Today, August 26, 2020, we are celebrating Women’s Equality Day and the 100th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment, which granted some women the right to vote. Black women were largely left out until the Voting Rights Act of 1965 became law.

To celebrate these occasions, we are highlighting “Women on the Rise” from Paradigm for Parity® coalition member companies who are breaking through barriers and diversifying the face of corporate leadership.

As the world continues to grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and as our nation confronts long standing systemic racism and inequality, inclusive leadership and achieving diverse representation in the workplace is more important than ever.

Paradigm for Parity® coalition’s Women on the Rise acknowledges and salutes women from 27 of our member companies who have been nominated by their colleagues, sponsors or mentors.

Name and title: Cheryl Stokes, Partner, Heidrick & Struggles

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Andrew LeSueur, Global Managing Partner, Heidrick Consulting; Nomination is endorsed by Heidrick & Struggles CEO, Krishnan Rajagopalan

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Against the backdrop of the pandemic and brutal killing of George Floyd, Cheryl has proactively led the firm’s effort to fight racism and discrimination as co-lead of our Professionals of Color ERG. She has spearheaded “Courageous Conversations” on racial inequality, and how to drive change — all as part of a wider endeavor to foster an inclusive culture that attracts, develops and accelerates diverse talent.

Name and title: Maria Howard, Chief Revenue Officer & Principal Consultant, Linkage

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Sarah Breigle, Senior Director, Marketing, Linkage

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Maria’s exemplary leadership during the COVID-19 crisis has helped rally our organization together during a time when the only thing that was certain was uncertainty. She creates space for dialogue on a regular basis, giving her teams the permission to be in the moment and figure out how best to navigate these unprecedented times. She shares stories about how she is processing the world around us despite the twists and turns.

Name and title: Cheryl Carron, President of Integrated Facility Management, Sodexo North America

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Gerri Mason Hall, Chief Diversity, Inclusion & Social Responsibility Officer, Sodexo Americas

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Cheryl Carron is Sodexo’s President of Integrated Facility Management in North America where she leads development, strategy, and execution. She serves on the Milwaukee Ballet and United Way of Greater Milwaukee and Waukesha County boards and her work with the Women’s Leadership Council helps encourage women and girls. Cheryl both sponsors and mentors women entering the field of facilities management.

Name and title: Elizabeth Ahmed, EVP of People, Communications and Corporate Social Responsibility, Unum

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Richard McKenney, President & CEO, Unum

Why she’s a woman on the rise: As Unum’s People and Communications leader, Liz Ahmed ensures that employee health, safety and wellbeing guides Unum’s pandemic response. From the rapid shift to remote work and redeploying staff to key business areas of need, to the safely calculated return to the office, Liz supports a multi-generational workforce navigating an

environment of extreme uncertainty, while instilling confidence and increasing engagement.

Name and title: Natalie Westfall, Vice President, Henry Schein Financial Service, Henry Schein, Inc.

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Keith Drayer, Vice President & General Manager, Financial Services and Practice Solutions, Henry Schein, Inc.

Why she’s a woman on the rise: To mitigate the spread of COVID-19, the American Dental Association recommended that dentists provide only emergency services, resulting in office closures and unprecedented revenue declines. Natalie led a Financial Services team that helped Henry Schein’s U.S. dental customers secure $27+ million in business-sustaining loans through the U.S. government’s Paycheck Protection Program, which helped save 60,000 dental industry jobs.

Name and title: T-Neisha Tate, Vice President of Social Responsibility and Impact, Jacksonville Jaguars

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Victoria Croy, Director of Talent and Culture, Jacksonville Jaguars

Why she’s a woman on the rise: T-Neisha’s trailblazing success in building up our community has been through her strong relationships with peers, area nonprofits and public educators; her passion for social justice and equality; plus her creative skillset and “get it done” mentality. Her drive has naturally created a path for her in her current role in the NFL as the VP of Social Responsibility and Impact for the Jaguars.

Name and title: Valoria Armstrong, VP, National Government and Regulatory Affairs, American Water

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Marianne L. Taylor, Director, Talent Acquisition, American Water

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Valoria leads the company’s inclusion and diversity initiatives, while challenging the community and leaders to be intentional when it comes to I&D. Valoria led a podcast addressing I&D in the face of racism and protest, making employees feel valued, respected and included. With Valoria‘s willingness to stand in the gap for others, American Water is beginning to lead the way with I&D in the industry.

Name and title: Lori Butler, Vice President, Environment, Health & Safety, Carrier

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor:Rishi Grover, Senior Vice President Operations, Carrier

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Lori has made a significant impact through her tremendous ability to partner and influence. During the COVID-19 pandemic, Lori demonstrated deep expertise, remarkable leadership and strong collaboration skills to design and deploy effective global strategies, protocols, and guidelines to help keep our 53,000 employees safe. Her authentic communication and leadership style is a source of inspiration for women.

Name and title: Eboni Major, Whisky Blending Specialist, Diageo

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Andrew Mackay, Master Blender, Diageo

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Eboni consistently delivers great whiskies. She is an excellent representative for the brand and speaks powerfully and eloquently to each audience with whom she interacts. And, most importantly, Eboni has used her experience to develop a new variant of the Bulleit bourbon called the Blender’s Select which was very well received. Eboni’s strategic mindset will help develop our whiskies now and in the future.

Name and title: Veronica Braker, Senior Vice President, Global Operations, ADM

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Juan Luciano, CEO, ADM

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Veronica’s exceptional leadership has been instrumental in ensuring that ADM’s 800+ global production facilities are operating safely despite the challenges of COVID-19. She led more than 20,000 members of ADM’s worldwide operations team to adapt quickly, implement health and safety protocols, and drive continuous improvement to enable ADM to maintain its key role in providing essential nutrition to the world.

Name and title: Emily Miller, Senior Associate, Cheer Partners

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Olivia Graham, Associate Director, Cheer Partners

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Emily prioritizes establishing relationships with the person behind the screen. Her colleagues and clients rely on her unwavering consistency, innovation, and commitment. Emily is the ultimate team player who constantly raises the standard of what we can deliver both internally and externally. Her capacity for leadership shines through in all her work. We know she will achieve big things.

Name and title: Rina Patel, Account Executive, Americas, HERE Technologies

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Charity Rumery, Vice President, AMER Head of Automotive & Industrial, HERE Technologies

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Rina is a rising star in the Automotive Sales organization and navigates these traditionally male-dominated areas through sponsorship, teamwork, innovation, and collaboration. She exemplifies leadership in winning and building relationships with HERE’s customers and amplifying women. Rina is a founding member of HERE Women’s Initiative Network (WIN) and partners with other ERGs to help foster a culture of inclusion and elevate the dialogue at HERE.

Name and title: Lisa Bevacqua, Executive Vice President, Director of Asset Management, Silverstein Properties, Inc.

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Marty Burger, CEO, Silverstein Properties, Inc.

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Lisa Bevacqua oversees a 15 million square foot office and residential portfolio at Silverstein Properties, one of New York’s leading real estate companies. Lisa is a member of the company’s Management Committee and Diversity and Inclusion Committee, is a vocal advocate for equity and is helping lead the reopening of the portfolio as we come out of the pandemic.

Name and title: Lisa Kaplowitz, Founding Director, Center for Women in Business (CWIB) and Assistant Professor of Professional Practice — Finance, Rutgers Business School

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Richard Greene, Advisory Board member, Center for Women in Business at Rutgers Business School

Why she’s a woman on the rise: At CWIB, Lisa works to remove barriers, build community and empower women in business. CWIB’s current research focuses on advancing and retaining mid-career women, the intersection of race and gender and male allyship. Previously, Lisa was an investment banker and finance executive. As a Division I student-athlete, Lisa played a central role in the Brown University landmark Title IX decision.

Name and title: Lauren Elkerson, General Counsel of RGP

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Kate Duchene, CEO of RGP

Why she’s a woman on the rise: After 2 years of serving as RGP’s lead employment and litigation counsel, Lauren was appointed General Counsel. She is a true partner to our leadership team, always striving to identify mutually agreeable solutions that balance risk with the needs of the business. Most importantly, Lauren exemplifies the human-centered values we honor at RGP — she is fiercely collaborative, always adaptive and growth-minded and relentlessly purpose-driven.

Name and title: Caroline Winn, CEO, San Diego Gas & Electric

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Randy Clark, Senior Vice President and Chief Human Resources Officer, Sempra Energy

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Caroline Winn, CEO for San Diego Gas & Electric, a Sempra Energy subsidiary, helps lead SDG&E’s nationally recognized efforts in sustainability, technology and innovation, safety and wildfire mitigation. Caroline began her career as an associate engineer and is now an active leader of SDG&E’s #BeThatGirl initiative, which brings female STEM professionals to schools to serve as role models.

Name and title: Kia Wimmer, Associate General Counsel, VF Corporation

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Christine Hernandez, Vice President & General Counsel, Intellectual Property, VF Corporation

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Kia Wimmer, Associate General Counsel, spearheaded the VF Legal Department’s Protest with Purpose initiative. Through this effort, VF and its brands work in collaboration with external legal service providers and community partners to fight racism, challenge the status quo and advance the cause of equality and justice for all. Kia is also an advisor to VF’s Council to Advance Racial Equity (CARE).

Name and title: Terri Spencer, Senior Manager, Product Software Architecture and Engineering, Equinix

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Yun Freund, SVP, Platform Architecture and Engineering, Equinix

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Terri is a trailblazer for diversity, inclusion and belonging at Equinix. She brings her passion for technology to her job every day. She is active within Equinix BlackConnect, and she recently conducted an inspirational interview with Dr. Allison Zuniga on the Moon to Mars NASA space journey. She is a champion for social justice at work and in her community.

Name and title: Megan Ledyard, Director Mergers & Acquisitions, Corporate Strategy, Ingredion

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Bartek Makowiecki, VP Global Strategy and Mergers & Acquisitions, Ingredion

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Megan has only been with Ingredion a little over a year but has already had a significant impact. She has been involved in numerous growth projects, most notably in the acquisition and integration of PureCircle, a critical enabler for our Sugar Reduction platform. Her drive, perseverance and creativity have been instrumental in delivering this complex transaction in a very challenging environment.

Name and title: Nicole Najam, Chief Employment Counsel, Hubbell Incorporated

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Katherine Lane, VP, General Counsel, Hubbell Incorporated

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Nicole regularly counsels Hubbell’s leaders and businesses on labor and employment matters. Her guidance and insight have been even more important during the COVID-19 era as new laws and issues continue to arise impacting Hubbell’s 18,000+ worldwide employees. Nicole is a Woman on the Rise because she has provided strategic, practical and clear partnership to Hubbell during this global pandemic.

Name and title: Kenna Baudin, Partner, Head of US Private Equity, Board and CFO Specialist, Egon Zehnder

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Stacy Drumtra, Global Co-lead and Head of US Marketing and Communications, Egon Zehnder

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Kenna Wyllie Baudin is Head of US Private Equity, and also plays a role in the Consumer and Media Practices. She’s also active and helps lead the firm’s Diversity and Inclusion Council. Kenna consults colleagues and clients on ways to improve D&I both within the firm and private equities — an industry that recognizes the need for diversifying talent and initiatives.

Name and title: Grace Boyle, Designer & Animator, APCO Worldwide Nomination

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Margery Kraus, Founder and Executive Chairman, APCO Worldwide

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Grace Boyle is an extraordinary creative leader, making a lasting impact through her work — spanning a range of industries, including energy, healthcare, transportation, government affairs and issue advocacy — and passion to do good. Grace is a founding and active member of APCO’s D&I Council, and she managed APCO’s global brand identity refresh with her bold, inclusive, curious and empathetic mindset.

Name and title: Katherine Perry, Head of Talent, co:collective

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Amanda Ginzburg, Head of Marketing, co:collective

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Katherine has been so instrumental in shaping the culture and employee experience at co: that she rose to Head of Talent in only 18 months, becoming the youngest member of the leadership team. She manages the full spectrum of talent development, operations and cultural initiatives while redefining processes and policies, overseeing our DEI initiatives and hiring over 50% of staff.

Name and title: Dericka Hudson VP, Development Programs & University Relations, Synchrony

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: George Anderson SVP, Chief Learning Officer, Synchrony

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Dericka has a steadfast commitment to the advancement of women. She has the rare combination of kind heart, fierce mind, and brave spirit to challenge everyone to find their personal passion to drive change. In response to the pandemic, instead of cancelling the off campus leadership and summer intern programs, she worked tirelessly to make them available virtually.

Name and title: Lakeeta Hill, Assistant Vice President, Global Legal Operations, Assistant Corporate Secretary

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Anna Richo, General Counsel, Chief Compliance Officer, Corporate Secretary

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Recently named to Cargill’s Global Law Leadership Team, Lakeeta is helping people thrive at the world’s largest agriculture company. She leads Global Legal Operations with a team operating across four regions. While not an attorney, her professional journey shows how diversity in leadership can shape and modernize a function. In addition to Cargill, Lakeeta sits on the board of YWCA Minneapolis.

Name and title of woman: Makila Scruggs, VP Deputy General Counsel — Labor, Employment North America, Trane Technologies

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Evan Turtz, Senior Vice President and General Counsel, Trane Technologies

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Makila Scruggs is an integral part of the Trane Technologies Legal team. Having recently been promoted, she has been a rising star since joining the company seven years ago. In her role, Makila addresses the considerable challenges that arise when operating a global workforce. She was recently named Outstanding Corporate Counsel by the Charlotte Business Journal.

Name and title of woman: Kelsey Graziano, Sr. Director, Communications, PVH Corp.

Name and title of submitting manager/supervisor: Dave Kozel, EVP, Chief Human Resources Officer, PVH Corp.

Why she’s a woman on the rise: Kelsey is the point of connectivity for our global COVID-19 communications, updating our associates on the changes affecting their everyday lives as well as our business and our workforce. Her ability to understand HR and legal policies and translate through her people-first voice highlights a skillset the pandemic demands and sets her up as a Woman on the Rise at PVH.



Paradigm for Parity

The Paradigm for Parity® movement is a coalition of business leaders dedicated to addressing the leadership gender gap in corporate America.