Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 100 Women Leaders of Connecticut for 2022. These women are celebrated for their contribution to the workforce and their personal accomplishments along the way. Since the beginning of time, women of Connecticut have kept their communities and businesses running despite the barriers that have stood in their way. The state was home to historical women who made it possible for today’s women to thrive in the workplace. Educator and abolitionist Prudence Crandall and woman’s suffrage advocate Isabella Beecher worked tirelessly to eliminate barriers women faced during the 1800s. Their work continued into the twentieth century with other notable women of Connecticut like Ella Grasso, the first woman to be elected as a US governor and Mary Townsend Seymour, champion of African American civil rights. Thanks to their dedication and fight towards equality, women of today are able to prosper across all industries.
Awardee Jamie Gerrits, the VP of Service Operations of Aetna, is known for initiating the optimization of the consumer experience in health insurance by leading enterprise-wide strategic programs to help leverage technology to drive exponential improvements. Meanwhile, Djuana Beamon, the Chief Diversity Officer of People’s United Bank, uses her 20+ years of experience in leading D&I strategies to find new ways to enhance the bank’s cultures and to celebrate unique differences and similarities. Jill Nowacki, the President and CEO of Humanidei + O'Rourke, helps the credit union strengthen its relevance and strategically address the value of human capital in turn creating an environment where they have increased innovation and a stronger succession plan for the future.
These awardees have worked tirelessly in their roles and are creating a path for future female leaders like those have done before them. Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 100 Women Leaders of Connecticut for 2022.
4. Jamie Gerrits
Jamie Gerrits began her professional career 13 years ago. Today, she is the VP of Service Operations of Aetna. As one of the nation's leading diversified health care benefits companies, Aetna provides people with information and resources to help them make better informed decisions about their health care, and the financial side of it. Aetna’s health insurance products include medical, pharmaceutical, dental, behavioral health, long-term care, and disability plans, primarily through employer-paid insurance and benefit programs, and through Medicare. Since 2018, the company has been a subsidiary of CVS Health.
Prior to her current role, Gerrits held several positions with Aetna including director of digital and contact center operations, manager of strategic programs and executive director of consumer experience. She also previously founded Mara Solutions LLC, an advising firm to partner with companies to develop strategies to thoughtfully transition to digital operations, adopt a culture of purposeful communications, and optimize the customer experience. Gerrits graduated from Quinnipiac University with an undergraduate degree.
8. Linda Cunha
Otis Elevator Company
Linda Cunha is the VP and Chief Intellectual Property Counsel of Otis Elevator Company. She first joined the company in 2016. Otis Elevator Company is the world's leading company that develops, manufactures and markets elevators, escalators, moving walkways, and related equipment. It was founded in 1853 after Elisha Otis invented the elevator safety brake, giving rise to the modern city, transforming how people live and work, and revolutionizing architecture.
Previously, Cunha was a VP and the chief intellectual property counsel at Pratt & Whitney and United Technologies Aircraft Systems. Earlier in her career she worked with Hamilton Sundstrand as a deputy intellectual property counsel. Cunha earned a JD from Albany Law School, a master’s of mechanical engineering from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and an undergraduate degree in mechanical engineering from Stevens Institute of Technology.
10. Sylvia Guinan
Wells Fargo Advisors
Sylvia Guinan is a First Vice President and Financial Advisor at Wells Fargo Advisors in Essex, Connecticut. Wells Fargo Advisors, a subsidiary of Wells Fargo, is the third largest brokerage firm in the United States with $1.9 trillion retail client assets under management. Guinan has over 20 years of experience in the financial services industry.
Guinan spent her early career in marketing before moving on to become a financial advisor with Morgan Stanley Smith Barney, her most recent position before joining Wells Fargo Advisors. In addition to her current role, Guinan is an author, frequent speaker and on the board of trustees for the Williams School. Guinan earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in marketing from St. John’s University and is a Certified Divorce Financial Analyst.
12. Djuana Beamon
People's United Bank N.A.
Djuana Beamon is the Chief Diversity Officer of People's United Bank N.A. She first joined the company in 2020. People's United Bank N.A. is a subsidiary of People's United Financial, a diversified, community-focused financial services company headquartered in the Northeast with more than $60 billion in assets. Founded in 1842, People’s United Bank offers commercial and retail banking through a network of over 400 retail locations in Connecticut, New York, Massachusetts, Vermont, New Hampshire and Maine, as well as wealth management and insurance solutions. Beaman has over 20 years of experience.
Previously, Beamon was an executive director of strategic diversity management at Aetna, and before that a VP of diversity and inclusion at Voya Financial. Earlier in her career she worked with Prudential Retirement as a team leader and senior relationship manager associate. In addition to her current roles, Beamon is an advisory council member for Quinnipiac University’s People’s United Center for Women & Business and has previously been active on several boards. Beamon earned an MBA and graduate certificate in human resources management from the University of New Haven and an undergraduate degree in business management from Albertus Magnus College.
16. Yuan Tao
Yuan Tao is a Principal at the Actuarial Practice of Oliver Wyman. Oliver Wyman is a global leader in management consulting and is part of Marsh McLennan, a $17BN global professional services firm. Oliver Wyman combines deep industry knowledge with specialized expertise in strategy, operations, risk management, and organization transformation. The Actuarial Practice of Oliver Wyman has nearly 500 professionals and is an industry leader in M&A, financial modeling and valuation, and reinsurance.
Tao has over 20 years of actuarial experience and is a Fellow of the Society of Actuaries. At Oliver Wyman, she frequently advises clients on M&A, financial reporting, actuarial modeling, and risk management. Before joining Oliver Wyman in 2016, Tao was an AVP and Actuary at MassMutual Financial Group. She also held actuarial roles with several other insurers including Phoenix Life Insurance Company and ING before joining MassMutual. Tao graduated from the University of Waterloo with a Master of Mathematics in Actuarial Science and from the Renmin University of China with an undergraduate degree in Statistics.
20. Carolyn Galiette
Carolyn Galiette is the President and Chief Investment Officer of Ironwood Capital. She first joined the company in 1991. Ironwood Capital is a Connecticut-based private equity firm that provides non-control growth capital to middle market companies. Its debt-oriented, national platform has invested more than $900 million in over 95 companies since 2001. Ironwood currently invests in the form of subordinated debt and minority equity in amounts ranging from $8 million to $25 million to support business owners and financial sponsors in growth financings, full and partial recapitalizations, generational transitions and buyouts.
Previously, Galiette was a VP at Aetna Financial Services. Earlier in her career she worked with PaineWebber as an associate. Galiette earned an undergraduate degree in English from Dartmouth College.
25. Elizabeth Mattern
Elizabeth Mattern began her professional career over 17 years ago. Today, she is a Regional Vice President for Equitable. Equitable is one of America’s leading financial services companies. Founded originally in 1859, the company’s mission is to help clients secure their financial well-being with advice, protection and retirement strategies for individuals, families and small businesses.
Mattern first got her start in 2004 as a recruitment manager at the University of Connecticut Foundation. From there, she went on to John Hancock Financial Services before eventually moving on to become an internal wholesaler at Eaton Vance, her most recent position prior to joining Equitable. Mattern graduated from the University of Connecticut with an MBA and an undergraduate degree in business administration.
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30. Diane Lopes
Edelman Financial Engines
Diane Lopes is a VP with Edelman Financial Engines. Since 1986, Edelman Financial Engines has been committed to always acting in the best interest of their clients. In 2018, two of America’s most prominent financial planning and investment management firms, Edelman Financial Services and Financial Engines, merged to become Edelman Financial Engines. Today, Edelman Financial Engines is known as America’s top independent financial planning and investment advisor. Lopes has over 29 years of experience. She began her career in 1993.
Before joining Edelman Financial Engines, Lopes was a VP at Aetna and before that a VP of retirement services and continuous improvement leader at MassMutual Financial Group. Earlier in her career she worked with Cigna as an assistant VP. She is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a process optimization expert in healthcare, financial services and investment planning processes. Lopes graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with an undergraduate degree in research psychology.
33. Mary Blankson
Community Health Center
Mary Blankson is the Chief Nursing Officer of the Community Health Center. She first joined the company in 2005 as a family nurse practitioner. Community Health Center (CHC) is one of the country’s most creative and dynamic providers of primary medical, dental and mental health services to the uninsured and underinsured. It is one of the leading health-care providers in the state of Connecticut, providing comprehensive primary care services in medicine, dentistry, and behavioral health. With more than 145,000 active patients, CHC is the health care home that works to keep its patients and its communities healthy.
Blankson earned a DNP from the Johns Hopkins School of Nursing, an MSN - family nurse practitioner from Yale University School of Nursing, and an undergraduate degree in classical studies and environmental studies from Tufts University.
37. Dawn Zavalishin
Bottoms Up Organization
Dawn Zavalishin is the Founder and Executive Director of Bottoms Up, a 501c3 public charity dedicated to raising awareness of Inflammatory Bowel Disease (IBD). Their mission is to establish funds within hospitals and physician offices to help patients and their families offset healthcare costs for items such as; infusion copayments, prescription drugs, medical supplies, rent, utilities, and more.
Zavalishin is an entrepreneur and has owned and operated several successful small businesses prior to founding Bottoms Up. She has worked with Fortune 50 companies and held key roles in the public sector. She has extensive expertise in all areas of marketing including digital marketing, social media and public relations. She has created innovative designs and has had executive oversight of professional and social networking technologies. Additional expertise include; training, development and strategic planning. She has created courses on many subjects including Compliance, Executive Leadership, Technology, Product Development, and much more. Zavalishin is a graduate of Southern Illinois University with an undergraduate degree in education, training and development. She also attended graduate courses at the University of Connecticut.
39. Anne Hunter
Anne Hunter is the VP of Product Marketing with DISQO. DISQO is a consumer insights platform that offers products that connect insights about what people think and do across brand experiences and consumer journeys. Connecting brand sentiment and outcomes from a single source, DISQO enables clients to more deeply understand their customers and create competitive advantage. DISQO’s platform is built on complete, permission-based consumer data. Hunter deploys her 25 years of experience in media and insights to drive revenue growth through market leadership for DISQO.
Prior to joining DISQO, Hunter was EVP for strategy and growth at Kantar and head of insights at AOL. Hunter’s influence has reached a global scale, including serving as Comscore’s chief strategy officer representative to the World Economic Forum. She also held VP roles in multiple start-ups with successful exits, including Real Media and TACODA. Hunter graduated from Barnard College of Columbia University.
42. Becca Brockway
McDowell Communications Group
Becca Brockway is the VP of McDowell Communications Group. McDowell Communications Group works at the intersection of media, politics, and policy. In today's fast-paced news media world, the company develops and executes public relations strategies to achieve business goals, pass or defeat legislation, and manage crises. McDowell Communications has an extensive network of media and political contacts, combined with a deep knowledge of how government works, giving its firm an important edge over any other. Brockway has 27 years of experience. She began her career in 1995.
Before joining McDowell Communications Group, Brockway was a senior associate at Guinan Associates and before that a government relations manager at CT Farm Bureau Association. Earlier in her career she worked with Collins and Flynn Inc. as a legislative coordinator. Brockway graduated from Hartwick College with an undergraduate degree in history and political science.
49. Tina Lessard-Dupont
Tina Lessard-Dupont is the VP and Director of Marketing and Communications for Seabury. She first joined the company in 2018 as the assistant VP of marketing and communications. Seabury Consulting, now part of Accenture, operates a number of specialty finance, investment banking, technology and software companies with a core focus anchored in aviation, aerospace and defense, maritime, financial services and technology.
Previously, Lessard-Dupont was an account manager at Martino & Binzer and before that a resource development associate at Charter Oak Health Center. Earlier in her career she worked with Cashman & Katz Integrated Communications as a public relations account coordinator. Lessard-Dupont earned an undergraduate degree in professional, technical, business, scientific writing and public relations from the University of Hartford.
52. Charla Stetson
Windsor Locks Federal Credit Union
Charla Stetson began her professional career nearly 11 years ago. Today, she is the CEO of Windsor Locks Federal Credit Union. Windsor Locks Federal Credit Union has been open since 1940 as a financial cooperative. The Union provides financial solutions such as loans, investments, savings, credit and debit cards, online banking, and other related services. Windsor Locks Federal Credit Union serves communities across the state of Connecticut.
Stetson graduated from Cambridge College with an undergraduate degree in business administration.
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55. Chun Li
Chun Li began her professional career 13 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Data Scientist and VP of Informatics of Diameter Health. Diameter Health upcycles patients’ raw clinical data into the quantity and quality of interoperable data for healthcare organizations. Using the company’s FHIR-enabled technology, Diameter Health can prevent the complexity of unifying many sources of data that severely limit the usability of the patients’ data.
In 2009, Li served as a director of internal affairs at Harvard Biotechnology Club of Harvard University. She later moved on to become a senior analyst at Health Advances, her most recent position prior to joining Diameter Health. Li graduated from Harvard University with a PhD in life sciences and from Tsinghua University with an undergraduate degree in biological sciences and biotechnology.
59. Katherine Bergeron
Katherine Bergeron began her professional career 33 years ago. Today, she is the President of Connecticut College. Connecticut College is a private liberal arts college in New London, Connecticut. It is a residential, four-year undergraduate institution with nearly all of its approximately 1,800 students living on campus. Connecticut College is a member of the group of colleges colloquially known as the “little ivies”, which is made up of small colleges with academic standards and facilities that can rival the big universities belonging to the Ivy League.
Bergeron first got her start in 1989 as an assistant professor of music at Tufts University. From there, she went on to the University of California - Berkeley, before eventually rising to become the dean at Brown University, her most recent position prior to joining Connecticut College. Bergeron graduated from Cornell University with a PhD in music history and from Wesleyan University with an undergraduate degree in music.
61. Rebecca Corbin
Rebecca Corbin began her professional career 22 years ago. Today, she is the Founder and CEO of Corbin Advisors. Corbin Advisors is a leading strategy and communications advisory firm with a deep expertise in capital markets, investor relations and strategic communications.
In 2000, Corbin served as a VP with Thomson Reuters. In addition to her current roles, she is the president of the Jim and Rebecca Loree Foundation where their mission is to raise and allocate funds for American students needing assistance through scholarships, research grants, training, counseling and other support. Corbin graduated from Washington College with an undergraduate degree in business administration.
65. Maureen Miles
Maureen Miles began her professional career nearly 21 years ago. Today, she is the Founder and Managing Partner of 4M Capital. 4M Capital acquires, improves, and expertly manages a fast-growing multifamily, private equity investment firm, creating opportunities for their partners to make attractive, risk-adjusted returns in real estate. With 26 years of experience in multifamily property management and construction, 4M Capital is a known industry leader with a sterling track record that speaks volumes.
Previously, Miles was a manager of network engineering at AT&T, her most recent position prior to founding 4M Capital. She started with zero capital and moved to a portfolio of over 160 million, with over 400 million in transactions in just 8 years. Miles graduated from Gateway Technical College with an undergraduate degree in computer science, from Morse School of Business with an undergraduate degree in business administration, and from EC Goodwin Tech with an undergraduate degree in electrical technology.
72. Karen Rossi
Karen Rossi is the Chief Operating Officer of LLumin. She first joined the company in 2019. LLumin provides operations software that dramatically reduces downtime and helps enterprises optimize the performance of their assets, streamlines the management of critical materials, and ensures compliance with regulations. LLumin offers a full suite of SaaS and software modules aimed at the asset management, materials tracking, and risk management needs of the 30,000+ users in manufacturing businesses, municipalities, universities, and other industries.
Previously, Rossi was an SVP of business intelligence and analytics at Travelers and before that a COO at Farm Credit Financial Partners. Earlier in her career she worked with Springfield College as an adjunct faculty member in the computer science department. Rossi earned an MBA from Western New England University.
75. Laurie Aaron
Laurie Aaron began her professional career nearly 36 years ago. Today, she is the Executive Vice President of WaveLynx Technologies. Founded in 2013 and based in Colorado, WaveLynx Technologies offers open and secure access control solutions for its customers. The WaveLynx team has over 100 years of combined experience in hardware design, access control and identity management, delivering innovative products and services to its customers.
Aaron first got her start in 1986 as a project engineering associate at United Technologies. From there, she went on to HID Global, before eventually rising to regional VP of business development for the Americas at Qognify, her most recent position prior to joining WaveLynx. Aaron graduated from the University of Connecticut School of Business with an undergraduate degree in marketing.
78. Constantine Alleyne
Civilian Corrections Academy
Constantine Alleyne is the Founder and President of the Civilian Corrections Academy. She founded the academy in 2018. Civilian Corrections Academy offers organizations and their employees consultancy, pre-boarding and in-service training, mentoring, and career planning services. Civilian Corrections Academy identified a vulnerability in the industry and created an evidence-based path to fill the knowledge gap for the civilian workforce, making for a safer environment and mitigating institutional risks by increasing the correctional competence. She has over 20 years of experience with correctional and human resource management experience.
Prior to establishing the Civilian Corrections Academy, Alleyne served as a health services manager on Rikers Island in NYC for a decade and as a health services administrator II for the CT Department of Corrections for an additional five years. In addition to founding the Academy, Alleyne is the founder of The Fly Behind the Wall podcast and author of The Cage Was Her Cocoon. Alleyne earned an MBA and an undergraduate degree in human resource management from the University of Connecticut.
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83. Mariana Monteiro
Mariana Monteiro is the Head of Global Workforce Diversity in Raytheon Technologies. She first joined the company in 2021. Raytheon Technologies Corporation is an aerospace and defense company that provides advanced systems and services for commercial, military and government customers worldwide. It includes four industry-leading businesses - Collins Aerospace, Pratt & Whitney, Raytheon Intelligence & Space and Raytheon Missiles & Defense.
Prior to her current role, Monteiro led the DE&I function in Otis Elevators, and before that she worked as a consultant supporting Blackstone and Thomson Reuters in change management and organization optimization at Refinitiv. Monteiro had a long and prolific career in General Electric, where she held multiple roles including HR business partner and compliance leader and the Center of Excellence executive leader for DE&I. Monteiro received her JD at La Plata National University and an MBA from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.
88. Patricia Macrae
Patricia Macrae is a Director of Point32Health. Point32Health is the parent organization of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, representing New England’s most iconic nonprofit health care companies. For nearly 90 years of combined service to their members and the community, together they are building upon diverse legacies and innovative collaboration by making it their purpose to guide and empower healthier lives for their members, no matter their age, health, race, identity, or income. Macrae has 34 years of experience. She began her career in 1988.
In her most recent role, executive director of enterprise modernization at Aetna, a CVS Health Company, Macrae was accountable for all facets of the program's strategy and planning. She is a member of Women United and was co-chair of the 2019 Power of the Purse. She is also a member of the Board of Trustees for Catholic Charities, the Archdiocese of Hartford, a lifetime member of Girls Scouts of America, and a member of UNICO National. Macrae is trained in Lean Six Sigma Black Belt principles and a licensed life and health producer in Connecticut. Macrae graduated from the University of Hartford with an undergraduate degree in marketing and business management.
95. Erika Santiago
Erika Santiago is a Senior Director for Program Management of Cigna. She first joined the company in 2019. Cigna is a multinational managed healthcare and insurance company based in Bloomfield, Connecticut. As a global health service company, Cigna's mission is to improve the health, well-being, and peace of mind of those they serve by making health care simple, affordable, and predictable.
Previously, Santiago was a director of strategic leadership at Optum and before that a president at the West Hartford Public Library. Earlier in her career she worked with Aetna as a senior sales consultant. Santiago earned an MS in communication of information technology from Bay Path University and an undergraduate degree in communications from Curry College.
99. Rosa Dicker
Career Resources, Inc.
Rosa Dicker is the Director of Business Services for the Southwest American Job Center (AJC) with Career Resources Inc. Career Resources Inc. is a non-profit organization and one-stop operator of the AJC, committed to offering help to job seekers to access employment, education, training, and support services needed to succeed in the labor market.
Dicker is an accomplished professional and has experience in the private and non-profit sectors. She entered the non-profit sector in 2014 with Capitol Region Education Council (CREC)- Transition to Employment Services, where she oversaw the Integrated Basic Education and Skills Training program (IBEST). In 2015, Dicker began work with KRA, Northcentral region American Job Center as a WIOA Career Advisor. Rosa coached and placed 90% of job seekers into training programs and returned to gainful employment. Her commitment and passion made a difference in many clients' lives. Dicker also enjoys working with at-risk adolescents providing emotional support and life skill techniques at Adelbrook Therapeutic Home. Dicker holds an undergraduate degree in business leadership from Albertus Magnus 'Accelerated program in East Hartford, Connecticut and a project manager certificate from Charter Oak College in New Britain, Connecticut.
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