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The panel discussion at AL DÍA's 2023 Women of Merit ceremony
(Left to right) Raquel Arredondo, Lisette Martinez, Jacklyn Isasi and Dr. Cynthia Estremera Gauthier speak on the panel at AL DÍA's 2023 Women of Merit ceremony on Friday, May 19, 2023. Photo: Peter Fitzpatrick/AL DÍA News.

Women leaders talk creating spaces and sisterhood in their industries at AL DÍA Women of Merit 2023

The ceremony on Friday, May 19 featured a panel discussion on four leaders’ experiences.

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As part of the festivities that took place at AL DÍA’s 2023 Women of Merit ceremony on Friday, May 19, a panel discussion with four women leaders carving space for themselves and others in their respective industries was one of the highlights.

Led by 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit Advisory Board Chair Raquel Arredondo — assistant dean for DE&I at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education — the talk also featured Lisette Martinez, executive vice president and chief DE&I officer at Jefferson Hospitals; Jacklyn Isasi, vice president of marketing, communications, reputation management and culture at EDA Contractors; and Dr. Cynthia Estremera Gauthier, a national leader on DE&I strategy and anti-racism, professor at Moravian University and the director of racial equity and engagement at Strategy Arts.

Their discussion not only delved into personal experiences rising to positions of leadership in their respective industries, but also offered some empowering advice to women following in their footsteps.

The first piece of advice that stuck out was to be “authentic” in one’s day-to-day of work no matter the situation. As the panelists went on to explain, not only does that instill confidence in oneself to do their best work and demand respect, but also sets an example for those coming up in any given company.

And when opportunities to rise in the company come, take advantage of them. That’s what Martinez drove home to the crowd assembled at Franklin’s View.

In her own words, she “had to do it.”

“If not you than who?” Martinez told the crowd. “Look forward and lean into what you want to do.”

She went on to say how that attitude has seen her rise to being the only Latina in the C-Suite at Jefferson Hospitals.

Isasi went on to talk about how imposter syndrome is often the blockade that stands between women, especially Latinas, in the workplace from pushing themselves to new heights.

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It’s also a term she made clear to speak out against and something she advocates day in and day out to remove from the lexicon of women and other young professionals in the workforce.

“No one can define my experiences… my life, but me,” Isasi said.

Estremera Gauthier’s “north star,” as Arredondo put it, was to accept that mistakes were part of the professional growth and advancement process. For Latinas, facing both gender and racial stereotypes and barriers in the workplace, it often feels like they have to work 10-times as hard to be seen and must be perfect.

The professor’s message was the opposite.

“You can be imperfect,” Estremera Gauthier told the crowd.

“We learn more from our mistakes,” added Arredondo.

Estremera Gauthier was also keen to point out the importance finding one’s “sisterhood” in the corporate or any other workplace because it creates a like-minded group that is not only there to support each other in difficult times, but also holds one another accountable when necessary.

“Sisterhood has always been my north star,” she said before the other leaders on the panel chimed in.

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