Happy Women’s History Month! In honor of Women’s History Month, we would like to recognize and highlight last year’s Visionaries honorees – Dr. Barbara Ferrer, Charlene Thomas and Nichol Whiteman. Working in public health, human resources, and professional sports, these three outstanding women have a long history of serving their communities and centering equity in their careers.
At Visionaries Awards 2020, our moderator Lolita Lopez asked the question, "As a woman, what has helped you achieve success in your career. And what obstacles have you had to face in that path?" See our honoree's responses below!
Dr. Ferrer is the Director of the Los Angeles County Department of Public Health, which protects health, prevents disease, and promotes equity and well-being among LA County’s more than 10 million residents. She oversees a budget of over $1.3 billion, directs a multidisciplinary workforce of nearly 5,000 staff, and works to integrate services with her colleagues at the Departments of Health Services and Mental Health.
Through the pandemic, Dr. Ferrer has been the face of the response to COVID-19 in Los Angeles. She has also been an advocate for centering equity in public health, "If you’re black or brown or a native person, you’re more likely to die from COVID-19. We’re not going to settle for that. We have to immediately try to make sure that’s not the story that gets told a year from now.” (Spectrum News)
She shared at our Visionaries Awards, "Part of the work for all of us, is to understand what systems are working to disadvantage whole groups of people, and [we need to] change those systems. Then understand, what personal journey do I need to go on, so I can be a better person, so I can contribute to the change that’s absolutely essential?"
With a relentless dedication to improving the lives of others, Nichol Whiteman is the Chief Executive Officer of the Los Angeles Dodgers Foundation (LADF) where she leads the team’s official charity – an award-winning leader in sports-based youth development. Under her leadership, LADF launched Dodgers RBI (Reviving Baseball in Inner Cities), a youth development program serving over 10,000 youth. The Foundation completed its 50th Dodgers Dreamfield, created a benefit gala, and increased fundraising by 1,000% with Nichol at the helm. The Los Angeles Dodgers were named the 2020 ESPN Sports Humanitarian Team of the Year recognizing LADF’s work as the club’s official charity.
At our Visionaries Awards, Nichol shared, “I’ve learned early on to focus on solutions and lessons. I always say as a daughter of immigrants who came here from Jamaica, I always saw this powerful example of dedication and commitment. So as a woman in professional sports, I often insist on leading with these values of excellence, and of integrity, and of preparation, so no matter the scenario or the obstacle, I am often asking myself if the action that’s required is true to who I am. And truly, because there are so few women in my space, I’m often pressured to never miss an opportunity. I understand that I certainly can cease the moment, but I’m also comfortable knowing that some moments are not meant for me.”
Charlene Thomas serves as Chief Human Resources Officer for UPS and is a member of the company’s Executive Leadership Team. She guides UPS’s transformation and HR initiatives to optimize the talent, leadership and culture for the company’s more than 528,000 employees worldwide. Recently, Charlene served on the board of Big Brothers Big Sisters of Middle Tennessee, Orangewood Foundation in Orange County, CA and as an executive board member for Habitat for Humanity. Charlene is also a member of The Executive Leadership Council.
Charlene also broke down barriers in her career at UPS, "It is so important for you to really know who you are. As I look over my career, I’ve always seen that women have not predominantly been in the transportation industry. And I always said 'why not me?' Why not take the opportunity to not only be different, but to be able to demonstrate capabilities, be able to demonstrate authenticity, to be inclusive and collaborative, and to know that people can count on you, not because you’re a woman, but because of who you are. And really helping define this space to create a pathway for others to be successful, no matter what race or gender they may be. But be sure to bring others up, as you bring yourself up. And know that everything you do sets the examples for others."
You can see the entire conversation with Lolita on our recording of the event below! (Fast forward to 13 minutes to get to the program opening).
“I’ve always believe that one woman’s success can only help another woman’s success.” -Gloria Vanderbilt
SCLN staff is made up entirely of women, and we are proud to continue to inspire, prepare, and connect leaders through our work. We believe that diversity, equity, and inclusion of ALL kinds and at all levels is necessary to ensure a more equitable and just future for all.
For data on women in leadership across the country, you can review Pew Research Center's findings.
Be inspired by more women in leadership in Google's Women's History Month video: