For the first time ever, Local Profile’s Dynamic Women of Color summit recognized and honored trailblazing women of color. The sold-out event, hosted at Frisco Hall, attracted over 300 attendees. The line-up of inspiring speakers included: Adrienne Trimble, President & CEO, National Minority Supplier Council; Joan Robinson-Berry, Vice President of Engineering, Modifications & Maintenance, Boeing Global Services; Shawna Wilson, Vice-President, Sales & Marketing, PepsiCo; Melody Lenox, Vice President of Operations, Axxess; and Rhonda Green, Managing Director/National Head of Business Development, JPMorgan Chase.
“We must advocate not only for ourselves, but also for each other,” said keynote Adrianne Tremble, President and CEO of National Minority Supplier Development Council. She added that attendees, whether representing a business or flying solo, should be mindful of where they spend dollars. Do business with women in our community, she said.
Guest speakers traveled from as far as New York to attend and impart wisdom. Applause filled the room throughout the day as dynamic women including PepsiCo’s VP of Sales and Marketing Shawna Wilson, JP Morgan Chase’s National Head of Business Development Rhonda Green, Boeing’s VP of Engineering Modifications Joan Robinson-Berry and Axxess’ VP of operations Melody Lenox took the stage.
Robinson-Berry spoke about the hardships of her childhood. Her brother was murdered, and she lived with a clinically depressed mother, she said. Her father, a Los Angeles Police officer, died in the line of duty, a tragedy she learned of from the evening news broadcast. Still, she insists that “anytime we let obstacles hinder our progress, we give obstacles the power.”
Shawna Wilson illustrated the demographics of women and minorities in corporate America. As of 2018, entry level employment roughly mirrors numbers seen among college graduates, she noted. However, management, vice president, supervisor and C-suites roles reflect diminishing representation from minority groups and women.
As Wilson explored gender and diversity in the workplace and participated on many related boards and committees, she came to a realization. “Maybe women of color do not need to be fixed or tuned up like you do with your car. Maybe corporations need to be fixed.”
Most speakers mentioned the current and future robust female purchasing power.
“You’ve heard story after story after story of amazing women of color and the amount of power women in this area have,” Lenox said.
Joan Robinson-Berry added, “I don’t know about you, but not a single purchase happens in my home without my input.”
Rhonda Green quoted a 2018 study that shows companies with diversity exhibiting greater “value creation.”
“There exists a specific correlation between companies with greater ethnic diversity and a 33 percent increased chance of above average profitability. Companies with gender diversity are 21 percent likelier to show above average profitability. And employee retention is stronger in diverse corporate environments. “These studies are public knowledge out there,” she says.
The event proceedings were led by Pamela Zeigler-Petty, a member of Local Profile’s Local Inclusion Task Force who met weekly to coordinate this event. Also on the Task Force were Ron Parker, Fern Johnson, Sr. Director, Manufacturing OT Cybersecurity at PepsiCo, Inc. and William Langford, VP of Ecommerce, Warehouse and New Business Sales-PepsiCo at Frito Lay North America.
Supported by sponsors including Frisco Hall, Toyota and Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital – Plano, the day wrapped with a discussion panel led by Ron Parker and cocktail reception. Cocktails by Soley fueled the networking sessions and violin virtuoso, Richmond Punch, wooed the crowd with renditions of “Killing Me Softly,” “Mac the Knife” and “You are My Lady.”
Champions of Change Awards
A key part of the summit was the Champions of Change awards, given to women who are passionate about advocating for inclusion and are forces for change in our community.
Local Legacy Award
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The Legacy Award was established in 2019 by Local Profile to honor and celebrate women whose lives have inspired other women to advance and lead. This award is given to a woman who has achieved significant professional stature and influence; have a commendable, trailblazing body of work; and, who have used their experience and skills to help other women advance as leaders
2019 Local Legacy: Dr. Myrtle Hightower, Community Servant
Dr. Myrtle Hightower—educator, diversity counselor and head of countless committees in her 96 years—received the highest honor as the first recipient of the Local Legacy award, given for a lifetime of exceptional community service. Future recipients will know it as the Dr. Myrtle Hightower Local Legacy Award.
Business Transformation Award
Awarded to a woman who has fundamentally changed the systems, processes, people and technology across a whole business or business unit, to achieve measurable improvements in efficiency, effectiveness to promote diversity, equity and inclusive platforms.
2019 Business Transformation: Sandra Rogers Phillips, Group Vice President, General Counsel, Chief Legal Officer, Chief Diversity Officer and Corporate Secretary, Toyota North America
Social Change Champion
Awarded to a woman who has significantly changed human interactions and forged relationships that transform cultural and social institutions. She should personify a commitment to diverse and inclusive environments and the overall development of women across all sectors of life.
2019 Social Change Champion: Rebecca Egleston Caso, Attorney, The Law Offices of Rebecca Egleston Caso
Outstanding Diversity & Inclusion Professional
This award celebrates women who actively promote excellence within their profession. This person contributes to and enhances the environment of Collin County, organizations and businesses, through a sustained commitment to improve opportunities for the diverse communities served.
2019 Outstanding Diversity & Inclusion Professional: Tina Bowles, D&I Director, Children’s Health
Philanthropist of the Year
The Award for Philanthropist of the Year honors a woman with a proven record of exceptional generosity who demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose generosity encourages others to take philanthropic risks and invest in others.
2019 Philanthropist of the Year: Paula Parker, Co-Founder, Ron and Paula Parker Foundation
The Trailblazer Award honors a woman who has pioneering track and leadership has opened new opportunities and positively impacted our community. She must have a proven record of sustainability and progression.
2019 Trailblazing Champion: Angela Tucker, Judge, 199th District Court, Collin County, Texas
The Ally Award honors a woman with a proven record of exceptional generosity who demonstrates outstanding civic and charitable responsibility and whose generosity encourages others to take philanthropic risks and invest in others.
Ally of the Year: Roslyn Dawson Thompson, CEO, Texas Women’s Foundation
Business Transformation awardee Sandra Rogers Philips quoted black politician and educator Shirley Chisholm. “If they don’t give you a seat at the table bring a folding chair,” she said. “And I’ll add: then move over and invite someone else to join you.”
The Dynamic Women of Color event comes as part of Local Profile‘s Local Inclusion series. The next event, Women in Business, will take place on October 11. Tickets for Women in Business are available for purchase here.
Photography by Dillon Powers and Dwight Craver.