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Berkeley College Advances Women through Dialogue and Networking in New Jersey during Women Entrepreneurship Week

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
MONDAY, OCTOBER 28, 2019
Contact: Ilene Greenfield
Director of Media Relations
973-278-5400, Ext. 1-5122
IGL@BerkeleyCollege.edu
 

BERKELEY COLLEGE ADVANCES WOMEN THROUGH DIALOGUE AND NETWORKING IN NEW JERSEY DURING WOMEN ENTREPRENEURSHIP WEEK

More than 30 Panelists at Berkeley College Events in New York and New Jersey Catapult Women with their Networks and Stories

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Photo Caption: More than 125 attendees at “Women in Leadership: Unleashing Your Superpowers,” held at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, in recognition of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2019, heard from successful women during two panel discussions on October 24, 2019. Others watched the livestream from one of six campuses or online. In addition, a graphic recorder created two large-scale representations of each panel discussion. To view the recorded event, check back soon to the Berkeley College News Room for the link to the recording.

@BerkeleyCollege  #WEW2019


Women Entrepreneurship Week at Berkeley College concluded with Part II of Women in Leadership: Unleashing Your Superpowers, an event that raised awareness of the superpowers of women and diversity. The event brought together women of all backgrounds, including Latina, African-American, millennial and baby boomer entrepreneurs as well as business leaders, at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, on October 24, 2019.  The panelists shared a common cause of advocating for women, closing the gaps in upward mobility among minority and women-owned businesses, and women seeking to advance in corporate careers.

Women in industry, government and media, who are elevating the voices of women on key issues, shared their stories of challenge and perseverance, as well as their excitement, as they gathered to learn and to network during Women Entrepreneurship Week 2019. Discussion topics included pay equity, how to fix broken career-ladder rungs and how to convert pivotal moments into successful opportunities. This is the fifth consecutive year that Berkeley has sponsored the program free of charge.

Michael J. Smith, President of Berkeley College, noted that next year the country will celebrate the 100th anniversary of the 19th Amendment that gave women the right to vote, and that 50 years ago, milestones included Madison Avenue creating a cigarette brand just for women, and the acceptance of women wearing pantsuits. “Things are greatly accelerated now,” President Smith noted. “The timing in our expectations has changed significantly and we can no longer wait that long … Our students are changing too.  Many do not want to work for someone else anymore. Today, through your dialogue, sharing, relationship-building and your networking, you will be influencing the next generation and our future.”  He also acknowledged that the organizations predicted to succeed in the future will better understand women.

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Photo Caption: (Left) Successful women leaders comprising the first panel “Women in Leadership: Unleashing Your Superpowers,” included their stories of varied paths leading to entrepreneurship. Left to right are: Diane Recinos, EdD, Berkeley College Senior Vice President, Student Success, and Moderator; Valeria Aloe, Director, Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and Principal, AlphaQuest Consulting; Christine Cox-West, Partner and Director of Insurance Brokerage, The Fortis Agency; Vonetta Hawkins, Vice President, Diverse Segments, Northeast, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage; Jill Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO, Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership; Kate Muldoon, Regional Director, Small Business Development Center, William Paterson University; and Karen Pena, Founder, Our Way to HOPE; CEO, Pena Tax Services and Accountant/Property Manager, TOP Real Estate Investment, Inc.  (Right) Several of the women panelists at “Women in Leadership: Unleashing Your Superpowers,” held at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, in recognition of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2019, spoke of the challenges they faced as immigrants starting over in the United States. Left to right are: Susana Baumann, Founder, President, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Latinas in Business, Inc.; Meg Fry, Features Writer, ROI-NJ and Moderator; Heidi Castrillon. Editor and Publisher, BIZ Republic Magazine; Melissa Baralt, PhD, President, SheCaucus and Master Faculty, Math and Sciences, Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts; Angela Harrington, Event Creator and Vice President, Berkeley College Communications and External Relations; Shea Richburg, Author and Founder, Lion Mommy, Inc.; Kay Lucas, CEO and Managing Director, MediaSense; and Shakira Johnson, Founder, Johnson PR & Events.

In her opening remarks, Angela Harrington, Vice President, Berkeley College Communications and External Relations, and Mistress of Ceremonies, told the audience that the lack of parity in providing opportunities early in their careers for women in the management pipeline is holding women back. She noted many inequities in the workforce between women and men. “Among managerial positions, only 38 percent are held by women and 62 percent by men,” Ms. Harrington said. “The rungs in the ladder are broken and we must set them right … Today you will hear from women who will share their stories of how they have turned injustice and inequity into opportunities, how they have fixed the broken rungs or risen up different ladders to success.” 

Panelists introduced themselves and informed the audience about the work they do, the paths they took to get there, giving back to the community and the importance of supporting fellow women. They also described how they turned adversities into opportunities.  Here are some lessons they shared.

Berkeley College Marketing Communications student, Panagiota Babadelis of West New York, NJ, returned to complete her college degree after overcoming a series of personal losses and a life-threatening health issue. She became involved as the Marketing Manager for the Student Government Association and founded the student Volunteer Leadership Program at the Paramus, NJ, campus. Ms. Babadelis works in the Berkeley College Center for Academic Success as a peer tutor and as an intern in the Communications and External Relations office at the College.

“As children, we have soaring imaginations, pure hearts, and dreams that surpass our galaxy,” Ms. Babadelis said. “As we grow into adults, we realize that those dreams change. Society changes how we think, how we act, and how we dream … The road is long and at times difficult. Sometimes we need a shoulder to lean on and a helping hand to pull us forward. Knowing when to ask for help is a sign of strength.”

Valeria Aloe, Director, Hispanic Entrepreneurship Training Program, Statewide Hispanic Chamber of Commerce of New Jersey and Principal, AlphaQuest Consulting, grew up and worked in Argentina before seeking an opportunity for higher education in the United States. “I did not think about this growing up,” Ms. Aloe said, “About coming to a different culture, attending college or that when I showed up, I would be questioned whether or not I could do the work. I began a journey of building trust, and most important, building trust in others.”

Christine Cox-West, Partner and Director of Insurance Brokerage, The Fortis Agency, came into the world of financial planning at age 21. She was very good at tax accounting, but in a field where the minority were women, there were certain things she did not like in that work environment.  She saw the need to help women make good financial decisions. After seven years, she and her husband decided to change their focus. They formed a business. Ms. Cox-West recalled how afraid she was of what other people would think when she became pregnant at age 23. 

“Once I got over that, it was the best decision in my life,” she said. “It’s hard giving people financial advice and being a female when you are 21. You have to be able to relate to people 15 or 20 years older.  I shared with them how I was doing it for my child.  Just to have that perspective was a game-changer … Most important was surrounding myself with people who supported me.”

Vonetta Hawkins, Vice President, Diverse Segments, Northeast, Wells Fargo Home Mortgage, said, “Failure is not an option when you are a mom at age 18,” Ms. Hawkins said. “If you don’t plan to succeed, you plan to fail.” Ms. Hawkins said she always made sure she knew where she was going, what her path looked like, and what success meant to her, and she urged others to do the same. “On the flip side,” she added, “As a manager, make sure we understand our employees, where they want to go to make them happy. When you bring in diverse people, how can I help you advance? Because it takes nothing away from me.”

Jill Johnson, Co-Founder and CEO, Institute for Entrepreneurial Leadership, said she did not grow up planning to start the Institute she did with her father. “It’s OK not to necessarily know what you want to do. What is important early on is to create options for yourself, making connections and meeting people.”  Ms. Johnson considers her the work of her firm – that of connecting women of color – so important. “You never know when your path will lead you into an entrepreneurial journey,” she said. “Think about how you are extracting the value of what you are doing … if you can take all that you have built on to build up wealth for yourself and your family.”

“Women are still unsure of themselves,” said Kate Muldoon, Regional Director, Small Business Development Center, William Paterson University.  “Women need to gain confidence and understand that what they are doing is worth it.”

Karen Pena, Founder, Our Way to HOPE; CEO, Pena Tax Services; and Accountant/Property Manager, TOP Real Estate Investment, Inc., followed in her parents’ footsteps from Peru, seeking a better life.  She, along with her sister, had to learn a new culture. Together they forged their way.

Ms. Pena managed personal struggles that included domestic violence survivorship and being a single mother of four, yet she never gave up and realized her goal of earning both undergraduate and graduate degrees. Her family remains close-knit and she continues to give back to women and families in the community with her children through the nonprofit organization she founded, despite ongoing challenges. She encourages women to move forward. “If you don’t know your path, start anyway,” Ms. Pena said. “You will find what you are passionate about.”

Melissa Baralt, PhD, President, SheCaucus and Master Faculty, Math and Sciences, Berkeley College School of Liberal Arts, said that her students and so many great women keep her going. When she ran for office and did not win, she noticed there were others like her and that is why she began the nonprofit organization, to help other women. “If we don’t change the narrative, we won’t change the story,” Dr. Baralt said. “It was important to bridge the gap in our community because (the women) don’t have the information in their native tongue.”

Susana Baumann, Founder, President, CEO and Editor-in-Chief, Latinas in Business, Inc., came to the United States at age 40 due to political turmoil in her native country of Argentina where she had been a college professor for 10 years. “I was challenged, being a woman, an immigrant, and a Latina. I did not have those challenges in my country. I had to build a new identity and face new challenges,” Ms. Baumann said. “Companies need to treat us as assets. We are not just resources.”

Heidi Castrillon, Editor and Publisher, BIZ Republic magazine, also moved from of her native country of Peru and had to start all over again and learn the language. “But I had confidence and learned to apply myself,” Ms. Castrillon said.

Kay Lucas, CEO and Managing Director, MediaSense, worked for many years in the male-dominated industry of advertising before she set out on her own, bringing a few clients with her. “Seeing others under me keep getting promotions was really eye-opening,” Ms. Lucas said. “One of the options for black women now is to own your business.”

Shea Richburg, Author and Founder, Lion Mommy, Inc. was inspired as a child by a television show where the lead female character is the boss of a male subordinate. “That’s me someday,” she said. “I know how to connect people.  My advice is to write your own narrative.  Don’t let anyone else do that for you.”

The proceedings at “Women in Leadership: Unleashing Your Superpowers,” held at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, in recognition of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2019, on October 24, 2019 were drawn by a graphic recorder from ImageThink, Inc., as two large-scale representations, one for each panel discussion. The firm is a New York-based graphic recording company that captures the ideas and energy of events with live easel drawings.

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Photo Caption: The proceedings at “Women in Leadership: Unleashing Your Superpowers,” held at Berkeley College in Woodland Park, NJ, in recognition of Women Entrepreneurship Week 2019, on October 24, 2019 were drawn by a graphic recorder from ImgaeThink, Inc., as two large-scale representations, one for each panel discussion. The firm is a New York-based graphic recording company that captures the ideas and energy of events with live easel drawings.

About Berkeley College

Berkeley College is a career-focused institution accredited by the Middle States Commission on Higher Education that offers students Master’s, Bachelor’s, and Associate’s degree and Certificate programs in more than 20 career fields. The College has campuses in Newark, Paramus, Woodbridge and Woodland Park, NJ, as well as in Brooklyn, Midtown Manhattan and White Plains, NY, with more than 5,700 students enrolled. In addition, Berkeley College Online® serves a global population. U.S. News & World Report has named Berkeley College among the Best Colleges for Online Bachelor’s Programs and among the Best Online Bachelor’s Programs for Veterans, for six consecutive years. The website address is www.BerkeleyCollege.edu.

The mission of Berkeley College is to empower students to achieve lifelong success in dynamic careers.

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