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These extraordinary women make up the 2022 Women of Merit. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.
These extraordinary women make up the 2022 Women of Merit. Graphic: Maybeth Peralta/AL DÍA News.

Meet the 2022 AL DÍA Women of Merit

These women will be honored for their tremendous contributions within their respective fields of work, and beyond.

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On March 31, AL DÍA will end National Women’s History Month on a high note — with a dedicated celebration of prominent, groundbreaking women in leadership positions across the country. 

This celebration will come by way of the 2022 AL DÍA Women of Merit event, an annual media event produced to focus on acknowledging and celebrating the contributions of notable women in the region. 

More than 100 individual nominees were collected throughout the nomination process, showing the true value, impact, and significance so many women have in our region, and beyond.

Nominations were broken into five categories: corporate, education, entrepreneurship, nonprofit and public service. In addition to the honorees of the five categories, one woman will be named an Emerging Leader and a Lifetime Achievement award recipient, respectively. 

An advisory board of 12 extraordinary women took on the very difficult task of narrowing down the impressive list of nominations down to just two selections per category, and one each for the remaining two.

At the event, a group of exceptional women professionals in different career fields will make up the distinguished AL DÍA Women of Merit honorees.

Meet the 2022 AL DÍA Women of Merit:

Corporate

  • Tiffany Tavarez, Senior Vice President, Technology Diverse Segments, Representation & Inclusion (TDSRI) and Technology DE&I Council & Director of Communications, Wells Fargo. 

Tiffany Tavarez is the senior vice president of technology diverse segments, representation and inclusion (TDSRI) and Technology DE&I council & director of communications at Wells Fargo. A newly-created role, Tavarez is responsible for leading the Technology DE&I Council, which defines Technology's strategic approach to global workforce outcomes, as it specifically relates to representation, mobility and inclusion. She will also develop and execute a high impact, multi-channel communities strategy plan for internal and external  TDSRI outcomes and brand awareness. 

In addition to her work with Wells Fargo, Tavarez is also very active on corporate boards. She currently serves as a member of Governor Tom Wolf’s Pennsylvania Commission for Women, advisory board chair for Monument Lab and Esperanza, and is also an executive sponsor of the Wells Fargo Pennsylvania/Delaware Green Team. 

Tavarez is a first-generation college graduate, having earned degrees from Temple University and the University of the Arts.

  • Ky’a Jackson, Director, Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at AmerisourceBergen

Ky’a Jackson is the director of diversity and inclusion at AmerisourceBergen. 

She is an experienced diversity, equity and inclusion advocate, fulfilling previous related executive roles with Money Mart Financial Services and AmeriHealth Caritas prior to joining the pharmaceutical sourcing and distribution services company. 

Jackson is a graduate of Cheyney University of Pennsylvania, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in communications before going on to earn a master’s degree from Temple University. She is currently a doctoral student at Drexel University. 

Education

  • Raquel Arredondo, ​​Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education

Raquel Arredondo is the inaugural Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the University of Pennsylvania Graduate School of Education. In the role, she drives school-wide DEI initiatives and strategies with the goal of promoting an inclusive learning and workplace environment, creates and drives best practices among DEI policies and procedures, implements training and development to enhance cultural competencies, and increases the global mindset for students, faculty and staff. 

She has vast experience in consulting, human resources and higher education and transitioned in corporate human resources as a training consultant and was later appointed to establish and lead university relations recruitment. 

Arredondo is a first generation Cuban-American with an education background that includes a bachelor’s degree of arts from Mason University, a master’s of arts from Rowan University, a Professional in Human Resources designation from The Society for Human Resource Management, a certificate in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion in Higher Education from the University of Michigan, and a Diversity & Inclusion certificate from Cornell University. 

  • Lisette Agosto Cintron, Principal, School District of Philadelphia

Lisette Agosto Cintron is school principal at The School District of Philadelphia, where she spends her time on activities involved in leading teachers toward improving their instruction, driving student achievement, and reducing student suspension rate. She is also an adjunct professor at Harcum College.

Throughout her career, she has proven to be a dynamic and results-driven educational leader with an accomplished track record of stewarding each school's mission and vision, setting goal and performance expectations, modeling aspirational practices, and promoting data use for continual improvement. 

Agosto Cintron is a graduate of Holy Family University, where she earned a doctorate in educational leadership. 

Entrepreneurship

  • Damaris Alvarado Rodriguez, Principal CEO, Children's Playhouse

Damaris Alvarado Rodriguez is the director of Children’s Playhouse, an early learning center that aims to enrich the development of young children through a healthy, safe, and diversified learning environment where children have ample opportunities to engage in a variety of age-appropriate hands-on activities.

Alvarado Rodriguez is a dedicated advocate for children. In addition to running her two Children’s Playhouse locations, she also remains very active in seeking new opportunities to connect with families in the South Philadelphia area. 

Alvarado Rodriguez is a graduate of Chestnut Hill College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration with a concentration in childcare management.

  • Morrisa Jenkins & Bonkosi Horn, Company co-owners at Freedom Apothecary

Morrisa Jenkins & Bonkosi Horn are two wellness industry experts, and co-owners of Freedom Apothecary in Northern Liberties.Founded in 2019, the business provides a self-care and wellness space offering non-toxic beauty and lifestyle products for a clean, holistic life.  

Jenkins is co-founder and owner of Freedom Apothecary. A graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, she earned a bachelor’s degree in exercise physiology, before pursuing an MBA in social media marketing from Rutgers University. 

Horn is the co-founder and creative director of Freedom Apothecary. She is a graduate of the University of Iowa, where she earned a bachelor’s degree in international/global studies. 

Their belief is that holistic wellness is a means of radical self-care, and bring with them a passion for cultivating a community and creating experiences that make individuals feel radiant both inside and out. 

Non Profit

  • Cynthia Figueroa, President and CEO at JEVS Human Services

Cynthia Figueroa is the president & CEO at JEVS Human Services. She is a dynamic leader with over 25 years of experience in government and non-profit human service sectors, most recently serving as Philadelphia’s deputy mayor of the Office of Children and Families prior to joining JEVS in January 2022. 

In addition to her executive role with the nonprofit organization, she also serves on the Board of Directors of Health Partners and most recently as a trustee for United Way USA, where she served as Board Chair in 2021. 

Figueroa is a graduate of Spring Hill College, where she earned a bachelor’s degree. 

  • Cassie Haynes & Jean Friedman-Rudovsky, Co-Directors at Resolve Philadelphia 

Cassie Haynes & Jean Friedman-Rudovsky are the co-directors at Resolve Philadelphia, an journalism organization that challenges the industry to be more equitable and collaborative, based on community voices and solutions. 

Haynes is a leader in social innovation and business strategy. Through recent years, she has become a national speaker and thought leader on diversity and belonging in newsrooms, shared leadership, and building equitable organizational structures.  

Friedman-Rudovsky is a Philadelphia native whose passion is journalism’s vital role in creating a fair and just society. She has built her career as an award-winning freelance journalist, spending more than a decade reporting from the Global south and specializing in longform investigative and solutions pieces.  

Public Service 

  • Marilyn Torres, Camden City Councilwoman

Marilyn Torres is the first Hispanic woman to ever serve on Camden City Council, and was elected to serve as Council-At-Large, representing the entire City.

A lifelong Camden resident and strong advocate for education, she has worked for the Camden Board of Education for over 32 years as the District Parent Coordinator.

She has also hosted and produced a Spanish language health education talk show entitled “Enterate,” which highlights community service in the Camden community. Other roles include serving as chairperson and treasurer of the Camden Redevelopment Agency, and various volunteer positions with the Asociación Puertorriqueños en Marcha (APM), Camden on the Move, the Hispanic Professionals Committee and more. 

Torres is an alumna of Rowan University, where she earned her associates degree. 

  • Varsovia Fernandez, Executive Director at Pennsylvania CDFI Network

Varsovia Fernandez is the executive director at Pennsylvania CDFI Network, a coalition of 17 PA-based community development financial institutions that together serve all 67 counties in the Commonwealth.

She is a senior executive with over 25 years of combined management experience across a variety of industries, including financial services, nonprofits, information technology, venture capital and eCommerce. 

In addition to her role with the Pennsylvania CDFI Network, Fernandez also serves on a number of boards. Most recently, she was elected the first Latina chairwoman of the Montgomery County Community College Board of Trustees.  

Emerging Leader

  • Shannon Morales, CEO of Tribaja

Shannon Morales is the founder and CEO of Tribaja, a platform that aids businesses diversify their talent pipeline and increase brand awareness to the Latinx and Black tech communities. It also helps Black and Latinx people in tech receive career advancement resources and job opportunities at equitable workplaces in tech and startup ecosystems nationwide. 

A founder, operator, and entrepreneur, Morales has been a strong diversity, equity and inclusion enthusiast, particularly within the tech community. 

Morales is also the chapter director for Techqueria Philly, the largest Latinx in tech community in the United States, where she helps create a space for Latinx in tech to thrive through curated events, virtual programs, memberships and sponsorships. 

Lifetime Achievement

  • Sharmain Matlock-Turner, President & CEO Urban Affairs Coalition

Sharmain Matlock-Turner is the president & CEO of the Urban Affairs Coalition, the first woman to lead the Coalition in its more than 50-year history. 

In her role, she unites government, business, neighborhoods and individuals to improve the quality of life throughout the region, build wealth in urban communities, and solve emerging issues in those communities. 

She is also the co-founder and chair emeritus of West Oak Lane Charter School, and is also an active member of a number of different boards and committees. This includes Peirce College Board of Trustees, the Greater Philadelphia Chamber of Commerce, Uplift Solutions, United Way of Greater Philadelphia and Southern New Jersey, and many more. 

Matlock-Turner holds a bachelor’s degree in education from Temple University, and was also selected to receive a scholarship to the Harvard Business School’s Strategic Perspectives in Nonprofit Management.  

These women represent the changing demographics of 21st century America, one in which no business, organization or corporation can survive, let alone excel, without the presence and contributions of women leaders. 

The 2022 AL DÍA Women of Merit event will take place Thursday, March 31, 2022 at The W Philadelphia. To learn more or register for the event, click here.

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