Stories about the accomplishments of women of color and the obstacles that they have fought to overcome – and still struggle with – took center stage at the Women of Color, Leadership and Empowerment Conference on Tuesday at Hackensack Meridian Health Jersey Shore University Medical Center in Neptune City.
Presented by NJBIZ and Color Magazine, the conference featured diverse speakers sharing stories about their experiences in life and in the corporate world.
Keynote speaker Sweet Joy Hachuela, co-founder and chief growth officer of The Medici Group told attendees about her lifelong mission of addressing diversity and inclusion and challenged the audience to “dare to live bigger lives.”
“Lead with the essence of your passion and make the business case for diversity,” said Hachuela.
Hachuela told NJBIZ that conferences and events like this are important because they bring in women of color from different leadership positions and industries.
“It is a shared experience so folks don’t feel that they are the only one. It is inspirational where they are also getting professional developments and also learning key messages that will help them grow and be more effective as a leader.”
The goal of The Medici Group, said Hachuela, is to help companies leverage diversity and inclusion.
“Inclusiveness was not always the case and still is not always the case,” said Anne Goodwill Pritchett, senior vice president, Revenue Cycle Operations for Hackensack Meridian Health’s Northern Region.
“I have been the first in so many situations that it is really embarrassing because it should not have been,” she said. “But being the first in whatever that role is, I felt that I had an obligation to not only to prove that I could do it, I knew that I could do it, but to make others see that I could do it.”
Pritchett said that the culture of inclusiveness at Hackensack Meridian Health, and previously at Hackensack University Medical Center, has enabled her to achieve the level of success that she has today.
During an executive panel discussion moderated by NJTV News correspondent Raven Santana, Goodwill; Diana Lee, co-founder and chief executive officer of Constellation Agency; and PinkRose Hamilton, vice president business intelligence at HMH, fielded questions from the audience.
“These type of initiatives are critical because not only does it identify the movement of women, but calls out the plight and the movement and empowerment of the women in not only in New Jersey, but also in our health care system and the world,” said Wayne Boatwright, vice president of diversity and inclusion for Hackensack Meridian Health.