Across cities and sectors, women of color are embracing their professional leadership positions as an opportunity to lead change.
In Seattle, Dr. Wei Ying Wong is leading research around fostering empathy for animals and the impact on wildlife conservation behavior as Vice President of Learning & Innovation at Woodland Park Zoo. Shaunta Hyde is setting strategic direction for charitable giving and investments through her role as Managing Director of Community Relations at Alaska Airlines.
On September 19, female leaders will celebrate their individual and shared contributions to the Seattle community at the Women of Color Leading Change event. Panelists will include Hyde, Wong, Regional Marketing Director of Global Leasing at Boeing Aracely Godinez, and Superintendent of Seattle Public Schools Denise Juneau.
A national 2018 report by The Rising Tides found that less than 5 percent of leadership roles in Fortune 50 companies were held by women of color. Across King County, executive leadership is comprised of an average of 50 percent women and 32 percent racial diversity. While local organizations still have room to diversify and improve, Seattle-area businesses such as those represented on the panel are embracing the benefits that come from diversity of representation, perspective and contributions.
“From animals to aviation, from academics to airlines, we are seeing women of color at the table making contributions that positively affect women, children and our male allies,” said Dr. Sandra Madrid, event creator and former assistant dean of the University of Washington Law School. “Women have been using their powerful voices to improve their communities, but there’s been a void in opportunities for these voices to come together in one place and exchange ideas. Or even just exchange business cards. We want to celebrate the contributions of these leaders and also build a network for women of color who are future leaders in our community.”
Identifying shared-value partnerships with corporations and non-profits was central to securing event hosts and sponsors. The event will take place at Woodland Park Zoo, a gathering place for all people and abilities, and selected for its commitment to diversity and inclusion. This commitment to diversity is a priority across Seattle, including with industry-leader Microsoft, supporter and platinum sponsor of the event.
“Diversity and inclusion are core to our mission of empowering every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more,” said Shelley McKinley, Vice President of Technology and Corporate Responsibility for Microsoft. “Woodland Park Zoo and its focus on women of color in leadership helps women from diverse communities to connect and build a stronger community.”
The goal of this event is to encourage discussion and thought, build networks and create stronger communities. Event organizers hope this inaugural celebration is the first of many that will spark collaboration and connectedness.
“We have an incredible panel of women, and we also have male allies recognizing the value of these contributions. Jonathan Sposato is moderating the panel. He’s the Co-founder and Chairman of Geekwire, and a good friend,” said Madrid. “How great is it that our community sees the value in female leaders and wants to support us? How immense will the change be if we all lead change together?”
Event tickets are on sale at zoo.org/leadingchange and proceeds benefit Woodland Park Zoo’s Zoo for All initiative to remove economic, physical, linguistic, cultural and geographic barriers.
Interested in a shared value corporate partnership? Contact Erin Oest-Larsen at firstname.lastname@example.org or (206) 548-2443.
To support the Zoo for All initiative or participate in Giving Day on October 2, 2019, visit givingday.zoo.org.