Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina for 2023. North Carolina boasts a diverse and robust economy, with several key industries contributing to its development including technology, manufacturing, healthcare and life sciences, agriculture, renewable energy, and more. The leadership from this year’s awardees has been instrumental in driving innovation, fostering diversity, and promoting inclusive growth throughout the state. By breaking down barriers and challenging traditional norms, these leaders have paved the way for positive change and economic advancement. As North Carolina continues to thrive, it is essential to recognize and support the invaluable impact of women's leadership, as it paves the way for a more prosperous and equitable future for all.
Among this year’s awardees is Michelle Weston, Vice President of Security & Resiliency at Kyndryl, who as a PhD chemist, inventor, and author, holds an impressive 38 US patents and has published numerous works. Awardee Maureen McQueen, Chief Operating Officer at Anthem, is a customer-centric and meticulous governance leader responsible for overseeing a workforce of 10,000 employees across various locations, serving 30 million customers in 14 markets, processing 380 million claims yearly, and supporting an operating revenue of over $38 billion. Also awarded is Kim Drumgo, Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer at Geisinger Health System, who has led more than 63,000 leaders and employees in having authentic, compassionate conversations about race, social justice, and health equity.
Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of North Carolina for 2023.
1. Lyudmila Mishra
Senior Executive Vice President of Information Technology, Wells Fargo
Lyudmila Mishra is a seasoned technology executive with extensive experience in the banking and finance industry. With a strong background in technology strategy, digital transformation, and innovation, she has led numerous initiatives that have driven operational efficiency, customer engagement, and growth for financial institutions. In addition, Lyudmila also has worked for software product companies where she led the development of cloud-based solutions that delivered value to many other industries such as automotive and health care.
Lyudmila began her career as a software engineer where she gained a deep understanding of software development and infrastructure. She transitioned to the financial industry and joined Wells Fargo as the head of personal lending technology. Under her leadership, the bank successfully implemented an award-winning solution that allowed customers to get immediate access to funds via small-dollar loans with just a few clicks. In addition, she was responsible for revamping the originations experience for personal loan originations. Prior to that, Lyudmila was head of technology for fraud and claims for Bank of America where she was responsible for formulating and executing the bank's Fraud and Claims Dispute Management technology strategy, aligning it with business objectives, and ensuring that technology investments delivered value and innovation.
Lyudmila is known for her ability to build and inspire high-performing teams. She is passionate about staying at the forefront of technological advancements and actively collaborates with industry leaders and academic institutions to drive innovation in the financial sector. She is committed to promoting diversity and inclusion in the technology field, advocating for women in leadership roles, and mentoring young professionals entering the banking and finance industry.
Lyudmila holds a master’s degree in computer science from Oakland University and an undergraduate degree in electrical and electronics engineering from Andhra University, India.
4. Jami Stewart
Vice President of CX Centers Americas, Cisco
Jami Stewart is the Vice President of CX Centers Americas at Cisco. She leads a team of 6500+ employees and partners dedicated to applying technical excellence to simplify digital transformations for customers. She is a strategic and operationally savvy leader with over 20 years of experience in a global environment, focusing on the customer experience and leading internal shared service teams focusing on employee experience. Her career at Cisco spans technical services, operations, human resources, strategic planning, and customer experience.
Jami is known for successfully delivering high-quality results across geographically dispersed teams and for excellent communication and interpersonal skills at all levels, from executive to engineer. With years of experience in solving highly complex business problems across multiple functions, she finds solutions appealing to all. A native of Seattle Washington, Jami graduated from the University of Washington and is a fan of kindness everywhere.
5. Michelle Weston
Vice President of Security & Resiliency, Kyndryl
Michelle Weston, a well-known leader in the resiliency industry, is Global Vice President for Security and Resiliency at Kyndryl. She has over 20 years of experience in the IT industry leading development, sales, offering management, and corporate strategy across hardware, software, and services.
Michelle spent the early part of her career in IBM Research as a research staff member where she was responsible for breakthrough innovation in the field of microelectronics. She is a PhD chemist, inventor, and author with 38 US patents and many publications.
She is responsible for portfolio leadership, through co-creation and collaboration with Kyndryl’s strategic partners and alliances. She is passionate about cyber resilience and loves shaping and evangelizing security and resiliency services in the market for Kyndryl. She is often invited to speak at conferences to share her thoughts on the industry and emerging trends.
8. JoBeth Souza
SVP, Wealth Management Advisor, Senior Portfolio Advisor, Retirement Benefits Consultant, Setzer Souza and Associates
After graduating with honors from Wake Forest University, JoBeth began her career in the securities industry in 1993. She joined Merrill Lynch Wealth Management as a registered client associate in 1997 and transitioned from that role to a financial advisor in 2007. JoBeth is a partner on her team, Setzer Souza and Associates, which manages over $464 million in assets. Her Merrill internal titles include Senior Vice President, Wealth Management Advisor, Senior Portfolio Advisor, and Retirement Benefits Consultant. In addition to the internal titles, JoBeth holds multiple industry designations including Certified Plan Fiduciary Advisor™, Certified Private Wealth Advisor®, and Chartered Retirement Planning Counselor™.
JoBeth and the team have a strong commitment to excellence and integrity. The team’s mission is to help clients identify their financial needs and provide them with the tools necessary to create and maintain their desired lifestyle. They help clients pursue their goals by managing assets on a discretionary basis, utilizing customized portfolios or third-party investment strategies. She utilizes her acumen and 30 years of industry experience to develop goals-based investment and retirement planning strategies for high-net-worth individuals and multi-generational families. In her free time, JoBeth enjoys traveling, reading, kayaking, playing piano, taking dance lessons, and spending time with family and friends. She is passionate about volunteering for The XLH Network, a nonprofit organization that supports her daughter’s rare disease. She lives in Lewisville, NC with her 21-year-old son and 16-year-old daughter.
9. Stephanie Turner
VP of Population Health Services & Clinical Operations, UNC Health Alliance
Stephanie Turner is the Vice President of Population Health Services and Clinical Operations for UNC Health Alliance. She began her career as a family nurse practitioner in rural, suburban, and employer-based clinics for more than 16 years before transitioning into healthcare leadership. Since joining UNC in 2016, she has directed the strategy, expansion, and transformation of UNC Health Alliances’ embedded and centralized care management teams, delivering care within ambulatory and independent practices affiliated with the organization.
Stephanie has been an integral part of UNC Health’s success to date under value-based and accountable care. Over the past several years, her team has exceeded targets for reducing patient utilization through a variety of interventions including complex case management of the highest-risk patients, a robust transitional case management program, and comprehensive care coordination services such as annual preventive visits, implementation of an integrated behavioral health model, and nutrition therapy services in primary care practices. Operational teams under her leadership support those potentially lost to follow-up, gap closure, and resource coordination through strategic scheduling, abstraction, go-live implementation, and community services. The Continuing Care Network team works closely with affiliated Skilled Nursing and Home Health partners to improve throughput and care access.
Stephanie earned both a Bachelor of Nursing with honors and a Master of Nursing from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
12. Kim Drumgo
Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer, Geisinger Health System
Kim Drumgo was named Geisinger’s first Chief Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion Officer in 2021. In her role, Drumgo champions and guides the organization to better understand the importance and value of a diverse, equitable, and inclusive environment, as well as serves as a catalyst for change at Geisinger. She provides system-wide thought leadership, strategic direction, and implementation of diversity, equity, and inclusion-related programs and initiatives.
Drumgo brings over 15 years of experience in the diversity and inclusion field and has a strong track record setting DEI strategies, engaging stakeholders, and driving results. She has held leadership roles in several organizations, including most recently serving as chief diversity officer for Anthem Inc., where she led more than 63,000 leaders and employees in having authentic, compassionate conversations about race, social justice, and health equity. She has also held leadership roles at the American Institute of Certified Public Accountants and Blue Cross Blue Shield of North Carolina. Drumgo earned her undergraduate degree in public health from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and her MBA from the University of Maryland.
13. Quenton Wright
Principal, Charles River Associates
Quenton Wright is a Principal in the Labor and Employment Practice at CRA. She assists her clients with proactive consulting, compliance, and litigation support that may involve Equal Employment Opportunity discrimination litigation, annual pay equity studies, Diversity & Inclusion monitoring, Office of Federal Contract Compliance Programs affirmative action compliance, and federal and state wage and hour litigation.
Wright is frequently engaged in class action employment discrimination matters where she designs and implements statistical analyses that model the employer’s processes to assess equity in pay, promotions, performance, hiring, and attrition that assist counsel in developing a strategic defense. She draws on this experience when assisting employers in proactive assessments of pay equity and in preparing cents-on-the-dollar analyses intended for public disclosure.
Wright assists federal contractors in assessing and managing their OFCCP risk. Employers come to her when they need an economist to assess potential exposure and/or to communicate the statistical model to the Agency. In the diversity arena, she actively maintains a dynamic web-based tool that monitors D&I analyses for a Fortune 100 company.
Wright has presented seminars on the statistical analysis of employment practices to attorneys and human resource professionals. She has been a regular presenter on compensation and diversity topics at SHRM, NELI, and NILG events.
View the complete list of awardees.
14. Chassidy Cook
Chief of Staff & Senior Manager, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion, Red Hat
Chassidy Cook is the Chief of Staff and Senior Manager of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion for Red Hat. She is a global business leader and certified diversity professional with more than 15 years of fresh, transformational leadership and a proven ability to tie diversity, equity, inclusion, and belonging to tangible business results.
Chassidy is an authentic, trusted leader with deep subject matter expertise and the ability to meet growing business demands while delivering world-class, proven diversity, equity, and inclusion programs. She’s known among her peers as an inspirational leader with demonstrated ability to build, improve, and lead inclusion and belonging at scale across industries and a bias for action. Chassity leverages data insights and delivers practical solutions to solve large, complex DEI problems.
Before joining Red Hat, Chassidy served as a Senior DEI consultant for Blue Cross and before that as a development associate for D&I and philanthropy for Duke Health. She earned her undergraduate degree in international relations and affairs from Rollins College and a master’s degree in Black history, women’s history, and world history from American Public University.
18. Jessica Dill Gidney
Chief Audit Executive, Bioventus
Jessica Dill Gidney has over 20 years of experience in audit and risk management. She currently serves as Chief Audit Executive at Bioventus, a publicly traded medical device company with international operations, where she oversees internal audit and the company’s efforts to comply with Sarbanes Oxley regulations. She is responsible for providing assurance, advice, and insight designed to add value and improve the company’s operations. After joining Bioventus in 2020, she oversaw internal control readiness for the company’s successful Initial public offering in 2021 and the integration of two acquired companies. Before Bioventus, she led Internal Audit teams at Red Hat and Duke University and has 15 years of public accounting experience in risk advisory, internal audit, and external audit at EY and Grant Thornton.
Jessica is a team-focused leader with a passion for diversity, equity, and inclusion and has served on various DE&I committees, including being a founding member of Bioventus’ Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Council and subcommittee leader for Employee Resource Groups. She currently serves as the audit committee chair for the Institute of Internal Auditors, Raleigh-Durham Chapter, and has served on the board of Susan G. Komen for the Cure Charlotte and Triangle chapters. Gidney earned an undergraduate degree in accounting and a master’s degree in accountancy from the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. She is a Certified Public Accountant and Certified Internal Auditor.
19. Donna Julian
EVP & Spectrum Center General Manager, Hornets Sports & Entertainment
Donna Julian is an award-winning, highly respected entertainment executive with an impressive track record of success. She directs all aspects of major venue operations and administration including event booking, public safety, arena marketing, and guest experience. She is recognized for her outstanding leadership in directing and overseeing the preparation, production, and execution of all arena events from performances by prominent entertainers and high-profile political conventions to major league sports and athletic competitions. Donna, who joined Hornets Sports & Entertainment in 2005, has directed the management of Spectrum Center since its inception, hosting over 150 sporting events, concerts, and family entertainment shows annually. Showcase acts that have performed at Spectrum Center include the Rolling Stones, U2, Paul McCartney, Beyoncé, Stevie Wonder, Marc Anthony, and Andrea Bocelli.
Donna was honored as one of Sports Business Journal’s 2020 Game Changers, which recognizes women in the sports business who contribute to the success of the industry in multiple ways. Additionally, she was named one of VenuesNow’s 2019 Inaugural All-Stars, which recognizes top executives in sports, live entertainment, and venues who have made their mark in the industry and will continue to shape it in the coming years. She was also nominated for the International Entertainment Buyers Association’s 2018 Venue Executive of the Year.
In 2020, Donna was honored to assume the role of board chair for Big Brothers Big Sisters of Central Carolinas. She is also a foundation board member for the National Junior College Athletic Association, an executive committee member of the NC Sports Leadership Council, and a member of the Women Executives of Charlotte serving on the selection committee. She was recently appointed to the Leadership Committee of the International Association of Venue Managers. Donna received her undergraduate degree in athletics administration from Ohio University, was a four-year letter winner, and co-captain of the tennis team as a senior, as well as a member of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority.
20. Julie Blasingim
Vice President of Compliance & Development, Elligo Health Research
Julie Blasingim has over 18 years of regulatory, operational, and compliance experience in the human research protection field and currently serves as Vice President of Compliance & Development at Elligo Health Research. At Elligo, Blasingim is a highly valuable member of the leadership team. She specializes in overseeing corporate-wide quality and training management systems. Blasingim vetted, selected, implemented, and led the development of the current eQMS system. She is responsible for setting company quality objectives and standards and designing policies, procedures, and systems that establish compliance.
Given Blasingim’s extensive work history, she is also responsible for overseeing the corporate regulatory Intelligence Team, all FDA inspections, customer audits, company quality audits, and qualification assessments. Blasingim drives efficiency in company-controlled document management, CAPAs, and training for all internal staff and external Investigators.
Before Elligo, Blasingim served as the VP of corporate quality assurance, process improvement, and training for Advarra. Before Advarra, she played a key role in the development and expansion of several service lines at Schulman IRB, including clinical pharmacology/Phase I, institutional review and support, Central Oncology Review (COR) IRB panel, and eConsent. Blasingim holds an undergraduate degree in education, and an MBA specializing in leadership and has maintained her Certified IRB Professional certificate for 10 years. She provides training and educational sessions within the company, to researchers, and for professional learning groups and conferences across the research community and has also authored two training modules offered by CITI.
21. Amanda Kitts
Senior Vice President of Property Management, Northwood Ravin
Amanda Kitts is the Senior Vice President of Property Management at Northwood Ravin. Northwood Ravin is a privately held real estate investment firm. The company has 8,000 units in four states with another 2,000 units in the construction pipeline. Since 2019 the company has successfully added almost 4,000 units of A+ products by way of new construction in North Carolina, Virginia, Georgia, and Tennessee. In 2022 Amanda assisted with the disposition of two assets in Decatur that sold for $257m and two additional assets in the RDU market that fetched an impressive $100m and $149m.
Before joining Northwood Ravin, she was the director of real estate for Greystar in Charlotte, NC. In her previous role, Amanda’s portfolio consisted of high-rise, mid-rise, and garden deals. With a portfolio of 15,000 units, Amanda was responsible for the overall property operations, performance objectives, and operational excellence for over 20 fee-managed clients. She has helped oversee dozens of successful lease-ups, and repositioning/rehab, as well as assist with property acquisitions and dispositions. Prior to working at Greystar, Amanda was a senior regional manager with Riverstone Residential Group in the Southeast. Her experience includes fee-managed, owner-managed, lease-up/new construction, affordable housing, and senior housing assets.
Amanda is the past president of the Greater Charlotte Apartment and a GCAA Leadership Lyceum graduate. Amanda has been a licensed real estate broker in North Carolina since 2009. Amanda earned the CAPS designation through the National Apartment Association in 2009 and has been a Certified Property Manager with IREM since 2017. In December of 2019, Amanda won the Greater Charlotte Apartment Association award for Corporate Professional of the Year.
22. Robin McCarson
Chief Growth Officer, Pediatric Home Healthcare, LLC
Robin McCarson is the Chief Growth Officer for Pediatric Home Healthcare, LLC. PHH is a provider of pediatric private-duty hourly nursing services. These one-on-one nursing services are provided to children with substantial medical clinical care needs in the home setting. McCarson, who specializes in home healthcare operations, expansion strategy, and talent management, was excited to join PHH and expand its private-duty nursing services beyond Texas. McCarson is currently working with a team to expand PHH services across NC with a recent acquisition of Professional Healthcare Inc in Knightdale, NC, and upcoming de novo sites in Fayetteville, NC, and Winston-Salem, NC in 2023. Through expansion across NC, more children will be able to receive the care they need from the comfort of their own homes. McCarson believes you should work where your “why” matters.
McCarson, a multi-state, multi-site, operational leader, and team builder has a proven track record of tremendous organic and strategic growth in home healthcare. With over 25 years of experience, she is an expert in pediatric and adult home healthcare operations. Before her move to PHH, McCarson spent over 24 years with BAYADA Home Health Care, one the largest nonprofit home healthcare companies in the US. She was a pioneer while with BAYADA as she led organic and strategic growth across the state of NC, making BAYADA one of the largest home care providers in the state. Prior to leaving BAYADA, McCarson held in her oversight eight divisions with forty-four offices which included pediatric nursing, pediatric personal care, adult skilled nursing, staffing, and pediatric therapies across AZ, DE, GA, NC, PA, SC, and TX - together generating over $230M annualized revenue. Throughout her career, McCarson has been passionate about people development. She has had a hand in developing the careers of many others under her leadership.
24. Rachel Gilstrap
Chief of Staff to the Chief Marketing Officer, Shopmonkey.io
Rachel Gilstrap is the Chief of Staff to the Chief Marketing Officer over Sales and Marketing. She joined Shopmonkey in 2020. Shopmonkey is a cloud-based, all-in-one auto repair shop management platform that allows shop owners to streamline their workflows and better understand their business. Shopmonkey is designed to modernize the entire auto repair shop process from customer service, to parts inventory, to workflow management, and more. It’s used across the full spectrum of auto repair service specialties including general auto, tire, and wrap and detail.
Previously, Gilstrap was an HR officer for the City of Charlotte. Gilstrap earned an MA in political communication and health communication and an undergraduate degree in strategic communications from High Point University.
View the complete list of awardees.
25. Diana Potts
Chief Operations Officer, Fortuna BMC
With over two decades of experience as a business owner engaged in Federal Government contracts and 13 years of service in the Army and subsequent work with the Federal Government, Diana Potts brings a wealth of expertise to her current role as the Chief Operations Officer at Fortuna BMC. Her profound knowledge extends to small and diverse businesses, as well as environmental and sustainability initiatives within the government. Potts collaborates with industry stakeholders and educational institutions to foster business growth and deliver training programs. From 2010 to 2012 and again from 2015 to 2016, she represented North Carolina as a delegate on the Small Business Advisory Board to the White House. Additionally, she is sought after as a consultant, speaker, writer, and educator, providing valuable guidance and instruction to various companies and groups.
Potts has actively contributed to numerous organizations in both advisory and leadership capacities. Notably, she played a crucial advisory role with the Louisiana Department of Environmental Quality during the cleanup efforts for Hurricane Katrina and Rita. Furthermore, she was among twenty esteemed environmental leaders in the nation selected to participate in a Green Sustainability panel held at the Pentagon. During this event, she made significant contributions to the authoring of the Department of Defense's Sustainability Plan, which serves as a model for 36 other agencies.
26. Shontera Gillespie-Coleman
Chief People Officer, Walker Auto and Truck
Shontera Gillespie-Coleman is the Chief People Officer of Walker Auto and Truck, a 50-year-old, family-run company with 65 locations in 33 North Carolina counties. Its culture is to be a hands-on family-owned and operated business with employees that truly feel they are members of the family and customers that value mutual partnerships. Its commitment is to bring together the best folks in the business and build a team in each of its marketplaces that strives for professionalism and profitability. Gillespie-Coleman has 28 years of experience. She began her career in 1995.
Before joining Walker Auto and Truck, Gillespie-Coleman was a chief people officer at Luihn VantEdge Partners, LLC, and before that, an HR business partner at WellCare Health Plans. Earlier in her career she worked with EPCOR Business Centers as an HR manager. Gillespie-Coleman graduated from Central Michigan University with an MSA in human resources, and from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill with an undergraduate degree in labor and industrial relations.
27. Marie McLucas
Chief Financial Officer, Primax Properties
Marie McLucas is the Chief Financial Officer for Primax Properties and is responsible for oversight of policies and procedures for all financial functions, along with strategic and succession planning. Since joining Primax in 1995, Marie has been instrumental in the successful completion of over 1000 projects in 35 states, including over 40 projects under development. Marie is a repeat mentor for CBJ’s Mentoring Monday event, CREW’s national and local formal mentor programs, and the NCACPA. Marie served on the boards of Girl Scouts, Hornets’ Nest Council, Career Mastered, American Cancer Society, CREW Charlotte, and CREW Network Foundation, holding many chair, officer, and co-chair positions. She was recently appointed to the FFTC Cabarrus County Community Foundation Board. She is actively involved in Making Strides Against Breast Cancer and the Primax Pink Warrior Team. Marie has received numerous professional awards and recognitions from organizations such as the NCACPA, Real Estate Forum Magazine, Connect Media, Globe St., CREW Network, Career Mastered, The Mecklenburg Times, and the Charlotte Business Journal. Marie earned her accounting degree from NC State University, graduating Summa Cum Laude. She enjoys fishing, golf, reading, and trail riding with her husband in her free time.
Marie is an influencer in the Charlotte community because she generously gives her time and talent. She is passionate about the advancement of women and young professionals in the community. She has mentored hundreds of women over her professional tenure and continues to promote women. Marie is dedicated to meeting the needs of the community and has served her community broadly. She has devoted her time to causes that align with her passion for giving and helping others. She is an active listener who is enthusiastic about helping mentees achieve their goals. She shows everyone respect, provides honest feedback, is an expert in the field of real estate, and has significant experience in the nonprofit sector.
28. Wendy John
Head of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Fidelity Investments
Wendy John is the Head of Global Diversity and Inclusion for Fidelity Investments. She is responsible for creating and attracting a more diverse workforce, tapping into the power of differences to develop and retain talent, creating a culture of inclusion, and showcasing Fidelity’s reputation and brand as an inclusive employer and service provider.
Wendy is a 25 year Fidelity veteran who has served in several key leadership roles across relationship management, client services/operations, global workforce strategy, program management, implementation, and benefits consulting. Most recently, she served as the Chief administrative officer of Fidelity Charitable, an independent 501(c)(3) public charity. In that role, she was responsible for overall risk, compliance, external communications, legislative policy, government relations, and associate engagement. Born in Trinidad & Tobago, she moved to Canada to attend the University of Waterloo after high school.
Wendy is based in Durham, NC, and has served on a number of local nonprofit boards, including Johnson Service Corps. She is a current board member for the Research Triangle Foundation.
29. Christine Rutherford
Head of Growth, Rhythm Systems, Inc
Christine Rutherford is an outstanding business leader with exceptional skills and experience in the technology industry. She is a strong sales leader due to her significant contributions to the growth and success of her company, Rhythm Systems, as well as her pioneering efforts to promote diversity and inclusion in technology. As Head of Growth at Rhythm Systems, Christine is responsible for driving the company's growth strategy and customer acquisition. Through her leadership and expertise, the company has developed high-performance cultures and growth strategies that have helped achieve strategic goals for businesses. The innovative software platform and consulting services Christine has empowered teams to align their efforts with their company's overall strategy, track progress toward key objectives, and make data-driven decisions to drive success.
Christine's extensive experience in the technology industry spans over a decade at Oracle, where she led alliances with the company's global technology solutions group. During her time at Oracle, she played a pivotal role in advancing diversity and inclusion initiatives within the company, making her a trailblazer for women in technology. Christine's pioneering work in promoting diversity and inclusion has extended beyond her time at Oracle, as she also served as a founder at PwC, where she was a leader in the firm's Women in Technology program.
Christine has been named to the Women of the Channel Power 100 list multiple times and was also recognized as a WITI & CRN Woman of the Channel. She has been a frequent speaker and panelist at industry events, sharing her insights on the latest trends and strategies in the tech industry. Her passion, drive, and determination make her a true inspiration and role model for women leaders in the tech industry. She actively mentors and advocates for women in tech, working to promote success and support the next generation of leaders in the field.
30. Katie Pahner
Vice President of Regulatory Affairs, National PACE® Association
Katie Pahner serves as the Vice President of Regulatory Affairs for National PACE® Association. She provides strategic and technical counsel to NPA members and external stakeholders on federal regulatory matters impacting PACE organizations. Before joining NPA, Katie was an executive vice president at the Wynne Health Group, where she consulted with a diverse range of healthcare stakeholders including Marquee Health Systems, foundations, trade associations, health plans, and state governments, to advance their federal and state health priorities on Capitol Hill and with the administration.
Katie has more than 20 years of health policy experience, including in the CMS Office of Legislation. She holds an MPA with a concentration in health policy from George Washington University and an undergraduate degree in political science from Elon University.
31. Katie Roudabush
EVP of Marketing, Alpine Intel
Katie Roudabush is the EVP of Marketing at Alpine Intel, a group of companies leading the space in nationwide property and specialty equipment investigation services for insurance providers. She leads the team responsible for all aspects of brand and product marketing, demand generation, communications, design, digital marketing, and paid advertising. In her nine years with the organization, she has navigated the marketing team through exponential growth, five acquisitions, a merger, two rebrands, and multiple product launches.
With over a decade of marketing experience, Katie is active in the Charlotte AMA chapter and enjoys consulting small businesses on marketing strategy. Katie has her undergraduate degree in communication studies from James Madison University in Virginia and currently lives in Gastonia, NC with her husband and 2-year-old daughter.
View the complete list of awardees.
32. Sackeena Gordon-Jones
Founder & Chief Coaching Officer, Transformation Edge Coaching and Consulting
Dr. Sackeena Gordon-Jones is an award-winning global executive and leadership coach, leadership consultant, strategist, speaker, coach educator, and author. She is the Founder and Chief Coaching Officer of Transformation Edge Coaching and Consulting, a women-owned firm that provides executive, leadership, group, team, and mentor coaching, strategic planning, customized science-based inclusion training, consulting, and keynote speaking services.
Sackeena has spent her career helping leaders learn, develop, strategize, improve thinking, make better decisions, lead inclusively, transform team and organization culture, deliver impact, and foster extraordinary results. Her clients are international and multicultural, and across industries including C-suite, women in leadership, executives, clinicians, military and government leaders, high-tech, finance, pharma, manufacturing, and health care. Her signature approach, gives leaders the edge, to become more transformational, and intentional, create a bigger impact, champion change, develop strong teams, clarify values, execute strategically, and overcome behavioral derailleurs so that they can lead more effectively and authentically.
Sackeena is also the director of the Transformation & Business Coach Institute, which provides open enrollment and customized coach training programs for academic medical centers, the US military, and high-tech, to name a few. Before coaching, Sackeena was head of global leadership, learning, and organization development. She has served the International Coaching Federation (ICF), as well as, the Association of Coach Training Organizations, on the local, regional, and global levels. She is currently a fellow with the Institute of Coaching and holds the Master Certified Coach Credential from ICF. Sackeena is a member of the African Diaspora and has family members on 4 continents.
33. Patricia Tyner
Vice President of HR, Ascom Americas
Patricia Tyner leads the Human Resources organization for Ascom Americas with employees based in the United States and Canada. She currently serves as a key member of Ascom’s regional leadership team. She draws on 20 years of executive-level experience to lead the company’s engagement on critical strategic and transformational change initiatives to drive the company’s move to a healthcare technology solutions provider. She employs a multi-faceted approach to provide a work environment that highlights employees, brand recognition, diversity, and innovation. She is always looking to find ways for the company to become more environmentally competent and inclusive. She is a strategic business partner for mission-critical initiatives to address the business challenges of revenue goals, attracting/retaining talent, and creating solutions for the hybrid/remote work environment while balancing budget and profitability objectives. As a result of her efforts, Ascom Americas recently was named a Most Loved Workplace Award for 2023.
Before joining Ascom, Patricia was the director of HR for a private equity firm in Raleigh, managing a full range of HR operations activities, including recruitment/selection, coaching, training and development, benefits/payroll, policy implementation, compliance, and federal and state employment law. Before relocating to North Carolina, Patricia was the director of HR at Blackstone Valley Community Healthcare in Rhode Island where she did lead the HR and benefit administration of medical and dental clinics delivering clinical care to diverse underserved communities. She was also the VP of administration for an HR consulting company, Right Management Consultants, where she was involved in all aspects of the outplacement services to corporations during reductions in workforces.
She holds an undergraduate degree in biology from SUNY Cortland, NY, and has a certificate as an HR professional (SHRM-SCP). When she isn’t working, she enjoys spending time volunteering, gardening, and spending time with her husband and family. She and her husband enjoy traveling the world.
34. Naya Powell
CEO & Founder, Utopia Global Wellness
Naya F. Powell is a #1 best-selling author, 3rd generation entrepreneur, CEO, and Founder of Utopia Global Wellness, which delivers globally relevant wellness that elevates workplace culture. Powell is a graduate of Google For Startups: Black Founders Exchange and has been named 1 of 50 CEOs in North America to be a recipient of Google's Black Founders Fund and one of 33 named as CNBC's Rising Woman Africa - 2021.
Utopia Global Wellness Digital is a 2023 digital wellness partner to United Healthcare Plans. Powell is a highly regarded thought leader in the world of wellness and innovative self-care. As a wholistic lifestyle strategist and executive coach, she offers 15+ plus years of expertise in providing wellness solutions for leading global brands and celebrities. Powell and her company's client lists include the 2020 Olympic Trials, NFL - Super Bowl, The Ritz Carlton, Google, Martha Stewart, Sean Combs, Angela Bassett, and others. Her executive coaching and DEI consulting clients roster includes Fidelity, International Monetary Fund, Capital One, A+E Channel, ESPN, and Microsoft.
Powell's educational background includes an undergraduate degree from Clark Atlanta University, post-graduate studies at the College of Executive Coaching, and Rising Spirit Institute of Natural Health. Powell promotes Utopian Lifestyle Strategies as a global speaker, consultant, and luxury wellness retreat curator.
Powell believes Utopia Living is giving. She serves on the Daniel Center of Math & Science and The Woman Boss (The Gambia - West Africa) boards and speaks at various colleges and universities. Powell believes in global citizenship and is a practitioner of gratitude. She aims to spread life-giving services to the world and empower others to live their most passionate lives on purpose…wholistically!
35. Angie Breedlove
Chief Revenue Officer, Xcelerator Group
Angie Breedlove began her professional career 24 years ago. Today, she is the Chief Revenue Officer of Xcelerator Group. The Xcelerator Group was founded to help companies expand their businesses. It specializes in helping companies through the various stages of their business development and the development and rollout of technology solutions. Its people apply their vast experience to a wide range of business problems to provide solutions for its clients.
Breedlove first got her start in 1999 as a national accounts manager at Maytag. From there, she went on to Lowe's Companies, Inc., before eventually rising to VP of retail at Assurant, her most recent position before joining Xcelerator Group. Breedlove graduated from Simpson University with an undergraduate degree in business management.
36. Wendee M. Wechsberg
Director, RTI Global Gender Center
Director of Substance Use, Gender, and Applied Research
Wendee M. Wechsberg is the Director of the RTI Global Gender Center and the Director of Substance Use, Gender, and Applied Research. Dr. Wechsberg has been an applied community-based and gender-focused NIH researcher since 1994 and began her career as a clinician. She directed outpatient and residential substance misuse treatment programs until the onset of HIV changed her trajectory. For more than 30 years, Dr. Wechsberg has devoted her career to applied research, using mixed methods to develop and test the efficacy of gender-focused HIV prevention interventions with key populations with substance misuse. Currently, she collaborates with teams addressing stigma at multiple levels and using biobehavioral approaches to end HIV.
Wechsberg has served as principal investigator for North Carolina, domestic and global studies. She has over 200 publications in the areas of gender, ethnicity, outreach, HIV risk, adolescents, couples, and women. She is also an adjunct professor in psychology at North Carolina State University, in maternal and child health at UNC’s Gillings School of Global Public Health, and in psychiatry and behavioral sciences at Duke University School of Medicine. As the founding director of the RTI Global Gender Center, Dr. Wechsberg has worked to create an environment of collaboration to address gender inequality and enhance RTI’s vision to address the world’s most critical problems with science-based solutions in pursuit of a better future with a gender lens. Dr. Wechsberg was selected as a Forbes’ Women 50 Over 50 Impact Honoree in 2022.
37. Amy Jucoski
Head of Legacy & Wealth Planning & Founding Partner, Callan Family Office
At Callan Family Office, Amy Jucoski is the Head of Legacy and Wealth Planning. She has provided financial and estate planning services to ultra-high-net-worth clients since 2002. Amy implements firm-wide solutions with the goal to drive consistency and effectiveness to meet the needs of clients and foster strategic relationships for the firm.
Before Callan Family Office, Amy was the senior director of legacy and wealth planning at Abbot Downing, Wells Fargo’s ultra-high-net-worth management business. She spent more than 27 years at Wells Fargo and Wachovia, a predecessor company. While at Wachovia, she served in the firm’s corporate tax office, where she was responsible for state tax return preparation. She also served as a manager in employee benefit disbursements, part of the Wachovia operational services division. Earlier in her career, Amy was a project manager at Wachovia, responsible for successfully leading some of the largest initiatives in Wachovia’s trust history.
Amy received her undergraduate degree in management from the University of Phoenix and holds a paralegal studies degree from Champlain College. A Certified Financial Planner®, she was a board member of the Downtown Winston-Salem Partnership and the Winston-Salem Estate Planning Council. She has also served as a member of the personal financial planning committee for the Association of International Certified Professional Accountants® (AICPA®).
39. Aliyah D. Powell
Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging, Favor Delivery
Aliyah D. Powell is a conscious and compassionate people developer who consistently takes on enriching and challenging opportunities for high positive impact and growth. She is the Head of Diversity, Equity, Inclusion & Belonging at Favor Delivery where she is responsible for driving DEIB and corporate social responsibility strategies impacting contractors and merchants across Texas and employees across the nation.
Aliyah is a Howard University graduate and an inducted member of the National Coalition of 100 Black Women and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. She has worked and served with organizations such as The National Urban League, Every Child Matters, IncludeNYC as a Junior Board Member, and Gamma Iota Sigma where she co-founded the Gamma Solutions for Authenticity, Inclusion & Diversity Council. She also served on the national board of the National Association of African-Americans in HR for three years leading the collegiate initiative. Most recently, she joined the Charlotte-Mecklenburg Community Relations Committee by mayoral appointment to serve as a resident advisor providing city council staff insight into current human relations issues. She is the inaugural chairperson for the city’s first LGBTQ+ advocacy subcommittee known as CRC Pride.
It is Aliyah’s mission to empower people from all backgrounds to relentlessly pursue their passions by building bridges to opportunity. She currently resides in the Charlotte Metro Area with her husband, their two-year-old son, and their pug-child.
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41. Suzy Jackson
Managing Director, Accenture
Suzy Jackson is a Managing Director at Accenture, looking after the North America Life Sciences Commercial Consulting Practice, and has personally worked with clients across 5 continents. She specializes in large-scale front-office transformations and embraces the challenge of delivering complex global programs to large pharmaceutical clients.
In addition to her role overseeing the commercial consulting practice, she is the executive sponsor of Accenture Charlotte’s office’s inclusion and diversity efforts and is a proud supporter of both Safe Alliance and Planned Parenthood in Charlotte. She also provides keynote speeches, coaching, and training engagements via her LLC, SKJ Coaching, and specializes in the art of great communication and storytelling. Outside of these endeavors, Suzy is an avid traveler, scuba diver, and wine enthusiast. Jackson graduated from King’s College in London.
45. Monica Arroyave
Senior Director of Product Marketing and Management, Gilbarco Veeder-Root
Monica Arroyave is an accomplished, results-focused executive with extensive global experience in developing and implementing transformational strategies designed to drive unprecedented product and revenue growth. She currently serves as a Senior Director of Product Marketing and Management for Gilbarco Veeder-Root. She leverages a robust industry and business acumen within B2C/B2B, market intelligence, VOC, product strategy, and P&L ownership to successfully position businesses for maximum sustainable growth. Monica continuously champions improvements across systems, products, and culture.
Monica is known for cultivating trusted business partnerships and stakeholder relationships at all levels, including C-suite leadership. As a collaborative, strategic leader, she builds high-performing teams focused on achieving the organization’s short-term revenue goals and long-term business development objectives. She’s bilingual in English and Spanish.
46. Kristin Wharton
Executive Director of the Academic Resource Center, Wingate University
Kristin Wharton serves Wingate University as the Executive Director of the Academic Resource Center. A higher education professional and first-generation college graduate, she has brought her love of learning and compassion for supporting students' access and success to her work for many years. She feels blessed to have amazing team members, composed of faculty, professional staff, and paraprofessional student leaders, who work each day to inspire and educate as they support the faculty and students of Wingate University. The Academic Resource Center includes disability support services, tutoring and supplemental instruction, Student Success, and the Writing Center. Before her current role in academic affairs, Wharton worked in student affairs and enrollment management. She serves as a member of the university’s DEI council and JED Mental Health task force, in addition to her other responsibilities.
Wharton is currently pursuing her doctorate in higher education from Wingate University. A lifelong learner, she holds an undergraduate degree in English and a minor in communication studies from Wingate. Her master’s degree is in conflict resolution and peace studies from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro. She earned an education specialist degree from Appalachian State University in higher education, emphasizing adult and developmental education. She also received ADA Coordinator certification through the University of Missouri and the Great Plains ADA Center.
47. Amanda Rose
Founder & CEO, Prestige Connections, Dating Boutique, SwoonMe Events, and the Dating Stylist
Amanda Rose is the Founder and CEO of Prestige Connections, Dating Boutique, SwoonMe Events, and the Dating Stylist. She was named the top celebrity matchmaker in 2023 and named one of the world's Top Dating Coaches in 2021 and 2022.
Amanda has been in the dating industry for over a decade and has made it her mission to help singles date successfully, heal from past heartbreaks, and find the love they truly desire. She has been featured in numerous media including Forbes, Glamour, Redbook, and on multiple tv appearances. She was also a dating contributor to the Huffington Post.
48. Cheryl Parquet
Director of Community Engagement & Marketing Activation, Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina
Cheryl Parquet is the Director of Community Engagement and Marketing Activation at Blue Cross and Blue Shield of North Carolina, the state’s largest health insurer. She is responsible for the development and implementation of all corporate-based philanthropic initiatives including community investments and outreach programs, employee volunteerism, sports sponsorships and activation, marketing events, and major community initiatives and strategic partnerships to help improve the health and wellness of North Carolinians.
Through her work at Blue Cross NC, Parquet pursues her passion for empowering communities and giving back. Recognizing the impact that socioeconomic status, access to basic needs, and limited educational opportunities can have on a person’s health, Parquet has been instrumental in raising awareness of these issues and ensuring that real and effective action is taken to address key drivers of health.
Parquet earned her undergraduate degree in communication studies from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill, holds a certificate in corporate social responsibility from Duke University, and a certificate in diversity and inclusion from Cornell University.
49. Jenene Seymour
Director of Diversity and Community Development, Rodgers Builders, Inc.
With 15+ years of wide-ranging executive leadership experience, Jenene Seymour is a diligent advocate for providing marginalized communities with equitable access to educational, social, and economic opportunities. As Rodgers Builders’ Director of Diversity and Community Engagement, she helps drive integrated efforts to advance diversity, equity, and inclusion. Her role includes facilitating internal initiatives to foster inclusion, championing engagement with small/diverse businesses, and activating philanthropic community partnerships.
Before Rodgers, Jenene served as executive director with Project One, where she oversaw daily operations, fund development, and program delivery to expand the organization’s financial and mentoring support for under-resourced college students. She also previously held leadership roles with Johnson C. Smith University and Foundation For The Carolinas, and served as VP for operations with NIA Construction, an MBE-certified general contracting firm.
Jenene is a dedicated community volunteer and currently serves on the board of directors of She Built This City and the Charlotte Advisory Board of Helps Education Fund. Her previous board membership includes Greater Steps Scholars, Right Moves For Youth, North Carolina Cyber Academy, and the ANSWER Scholarship. Jenene holds undergraduate and master’s degrees from Temple University. She earned a diploma in construction management from NC State University and is a licensed Real Estate Broker in the state of North Carolina.
50. Alicia Stokley
Director of Summer Programs & Extended Partnerships, North Carolina School of Science and Mathematics
Alicia Stokley excels in her role as Director of Summer Programs and Extended Partnerships at the NCSSM-Durham campus, where she demonstrates exceptional leadership and advocacy. Her journey at NCSSM began in 2019 as a summer and extended programs associate manager, where she made significant contributions. Before joining NCSSM, Alicia worked at the College of The Albemarle as the coordinator of student life and leadership, where she successfully engaged students across all campuses through exciting activities, leadership development, and various clubs and organizations.
With her extensive experience in program management and recruiting, Alicia possesses a remarkable ability to expand and create new programs that cater to diverse populations. She consistently inspires leadership growth within the work environment and ensures an enhanced customer experience. Alicia's dedication and accomplishments have been recognized through several prestigious awards, including the 2017 and 2018 College of The Albemarle Catalyst award, the College of The Albemarle Employee of the Year in 2019, and a nomination for the NCSSM's Chancellor Award for Excellence in 2021. She is a proud graduate of Elizabeth City State University.
View the complete list of awardees.