Women We Admire is pleased to announce The Top 50 Women Leaders of Connecticut for 2024. Despite being the third smallest state in terms of area, with a population just exceeding 3.6 million, Connecticut excels in various fields such as education, industrial development, financial and insurance services, agriculture, and beyond. The state has experienced significant growth in recent decades, and a substantial portion of this success can be credited to the influential women leaders in its workforce. The recipients of this year's awards play pivotal roles in their respective organizations, spearheading change and fostering innovation that will leave a lasting impact for years to come.

Among this year’s awardees is Heather Cullen, Chief Human Resources Officer at PharmScript, who oversees the HR functions for the national pharmacy for long-term care facilities with over 2,000 employees across twenty US locations. As President of Eastern Connecticut State University, awardee Elsa Nunez has earned national recognition for the institution, achieving the top spot as the public regional university in New England according to U.S. News and World Report in 2021. Under her leadership, she has strengthened community relations, guided strategic planning, and facilitated notable campus development. 

Notably, awardee Maya Gat, Co-Founder and CEO of Branching Minds, guides a dynamic team dedicated to tackling crucial challenges in education by incorporating the expertise of experienced educators, learning scientists, and technologists, serving over 1.5 million students and thousands of teachers across nearly every state in the country.

Please join us in celebrating the accomplishments of The Top 50 Women Leaders of Connecticut for 2024.

1. Geraldine Taber
VP of Small Molecule Portfolio Group, Pharmaceutical Sciences, Pfizer

Geraldine (Gerry) Taber received her Bachelor of Science degree from University College, Cork City, Ireland, and her PhD in synthetic organic chemistry from Queen’s University, Belfast, Northern Ireland, and the European Institute for Higher Chemical Education, in Strasbourg, France.  

Gerry joined Pfizer in 1994, beginning her career as a development chemist in Pfizer’s commercial manufacturing division and supporting the manufacture of several impactful medicines, including Zithromax and Zoloft. In 1998, she moved to Pfizer’s Research & Development group where she led chemistry teams in the chemical design and manufacturing of the active ingredients for new medicines, including several for oncology treatments, Alzheimer’s disease, and heart disease. In 2019, Gerry was appointed to lead Pfizer’s Pharmaceutical Sciences Small Molecule Portfolio Group, a role that has her leading a team of leaders whose responsibility is supporting the design and development, from pre-clinical to global regulatory submissions and commercial launch, for all Pfizer small molecule (non-biological) new medicines. Over the last several years, Gerry’s team has been focused on our emergency response to the global pandemic, supporting the development of vaccines and therapies for the prevention and treatment of COVID-19, and advancing medicines that can change patients’ lives. She and her team have driven the development and approval of medicines for adult and pediatric cancers, inflammation and immunology diseases, metabolic diseases, and bacterial infections.

Beyond the science, Gerry is passionate about the development of leadership talent, with a focus on value-driven, authentic leadership. She is a member of Pfizer’s Pharmaceutical Science Leadership Team, Pfizer’s Women’s Leadership Network, and Pharmaceutical Sciences People Team. Outside of Pfizer, Gerry is a Senior Fellow with the Severn Leadership Group, which provides mentorship to a diverse group of women and men who share a common goal of investing in courageous, effective, and emotionally intelligent leadership. She is an active mentor to emerging women leaders in the Navy and Coast Guard military service.

2. Lori Groth
Chief Information Officer, GAF

Lori Groth is the Chief Information Officer of GAF, a Standard Industries company, and North America's largest roofing and waterproofing manufacturer. For more than 135 years, GAF has been trusted to protect what matters most for families, communities, and business owners with its innovative solutions and focus on customer service. Groth is responsible for leading GAF’s continued digital transformation, building and evolving an infrastructure that supports the company’s operations and the delivery of a world-class customer experience.

Prior to joining GAF, Groth spent 19 years at Stanley Black & Decker where she led successful enterprise resource planning (ERP) and manufacturing automation implementations and amassed extensive experience deploying transformational technology in HR, finance, digital commerce, and global supply management systems. Groth has dual Bachelor of Science degrees in computer science and accounting from Quinnipiac University and a Masters in Management from Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute. She currently serves on the board of Grace Academy, an all-girls school in Hartford, CT with a mission of breaking the cycle of urban poverty through education.

6. Holly Kjerulff
Head of Strategic Portfolio Management Office, Travelers

Holly Kjerulff began her professional career 28 years ago. Today, she is the Head of Strategic Portfolio Management Office at Travelers. Travelers provide insurance coverage to protect the things that are important to clients – their homes, their car, their valuables, and their businesses. It has been around for more than 165 years and has earned a reputation as one of the best property casualty insurers in the industry because it takes care of its customers, agents, brokers, communities, and each other. Kjerulff is a seasoned technology portfolio and change management executive adept at cultivating agile, cross-functional virtual teams to effectively and efficiently deliver complex initiatives within matrixed global environments. She has vast experience organizing and maturing PMOs, with a particular facility for driving order from chaos. Kjerulff thrives in ambiguity and specializes in strategic course correction, process optimization, technology integration, and organizational transformation.

Kjerulff started in 1995 as a corporate attorney at Perkins Coie LLP. From there, she went on to Apex Learning, before eventually rising to PMO of mergers and acquisitions integration at Citizens, her most recent position prior to joining Travelers. Kjerulff graduated from the University of Washington School of Law with a JD and from Amherst College with an undergraduate degree.

7. Melanie Tucker
Vice President of Talent Management & Development, Hartford HealthCare

Melanie Tucker is the Vice President of Talent Management and Development for Hartford HealthCare Corporation and is responsible for the strategic planning and implementation of programs and partnerships to deliver on the colleague value proposition, developing and sustaining talent pipelines, colleague development, and career pathways, and facilitating programs that build a culture where colleagues can bring their best selves to work. Previously, Melanie held the position of VP of HR for the Hartford Region.

Melanie has been an HR leader in a variety of industries including healthcare, manufacturing, and engineering services in publically traded, privately held, and not-for-profit sectors. She

is a trusted mentor and partner, influential leader, and change agent with demonstrated success in building high-performing diverse, global teams and balancing long-term strategy and short-term, tactical realities. She has extensive experience in leading global HR functions, developing and implementing talent management and development strategies that are simple, scalable, and designed to ensure the business has the right talent in the right place at the right time.

Melanie is an adept executive coach who successfully partners with leaders to build values-based cultures that engage and retain talent. She is the chair of the Industry Advisory Board for the Hartford Public High School Allied Health Pathway. Melanie holds an MS in human resources management and organizational development from Manhattanville College and is a Certified Coach.

8. Sheryl Battles
VP of Global Diversity, Inclusion & Engagement, Pitney Bowes

As Vice President of Global Diversity, Inclusion, and Engagement for Pitney Bowes, Sheryl Battles leads the company’s strategies, operations, and storytelling at the intersection of diversity, inclusion, and employee engagement to help create a high-performance culture. Her role combines extensive communications expertise, a deep understanding of business strategy, strength in analytics, and a passion for creating inclusive experiences. She also co-leads a multi-functional team exploring the future of work.

Sheryl has received numerous honors including the 2022 Diversity Leaders Award from Profiles in Diversity and 100 Most Influential Blacks in Connecticut. She is a sought-after speaker and media contributor. Sheryl graduated from Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA with a degree in human biology. She serves on professional and community boards including Elon University, School of Communications, advisory board; Co-Chair of the Page Society’s DEI Advisory Board; Greenwich Hospital; The Stamford Center for the Arts; the National Board of Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Incorporated. She is a member of The Links, Incorporated; a lifetime member of Jack and Jill of America, Inc.; and the Stanford University Alumni Association and Stanford National Black Alumni Association.

11. Jennifer Guidry
Division VP of Business Development & Marketing, Great American Insurance Group

Jennifer Guidry is the Division Vice President of Business Development and Marketing for Great American Insurance Group’s Alternative Markets Division where she leads the team responsible for the sourcing, due diligence, and onboarding of new captive and program business for the division. 

Guidry has held numerous leadership roles in increasing P&L and organizational responsibility throughout the past 20 years. Prior to coming to Great American Insurance Group, she spent 15 years at The Hartford Insurance Group in Hartford, CT. During her tenure at The Hartford, her leadership roles consisted of managing group and agency captives for The Hartford’s Alternative Markets Division, Head of the Book Consolidations underwriting organization, and Program Management of Wrap Ups (OCIP/CCIPS), loss sensitive and guaranteed cost construction programs. In addition, her leadership experience extends to the Small Commercial segment where she led various underwriting and sales organizations. In her most recent role before coming to Great American, Guidry was the Head of the Construction Practice for Small Commercial where she led the P&L, strategy, and product design across all lines of business.

Guidry earned a Bachelor of Science degree from Louisiana College, an Executive MBA from the University of Hartford, and holds a Certificate in Transformational Leadership from the University of Denver. She was named one of Insurance Business America’s Elite Women of 2021. Her professional designations include Certified Insurance Counselor and Construction Risk and Insurance Specialist. In her spare time, she serves as a member of the board of directors for Habitat for Humanity North Central Connecticut and is an active member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated. 

13. Heather Cullen
Chief Human Resources Officer, PharmScript

Heather M. Cullen is the Chief Human Resources Officer at PharmScript LLC, a national pharmacy for long-term care facilities with more than 2,000 employees across twenty US locations. She joined the company in 2022 and has been instrumental in building a performance culture while leading through growth and building sustainable talent practices. Her expertise includes organization design/effectiveness, total rewards, succession, diversity/inclusion, change management, learning and development, employee relations, and execution. Heather is highly adept at designing and leading people practices including HR, real estate, communications, and complex strategic initiatives in public and private organizations. Heather holds a Bachelor of Arts degree from the University of Connecticut. Throughout her career, she has been an active participant in diversity, equity, and inclusion initiatives.

Prior to joining PharmScript, Heather was the Vice President of Human Resources at Molina Healthcare, a Fortune 150, multi-state healthcare organization. During her tenure, she enhanced HR practices during a timeframe where revenue increased appreciably. In addition to standing up their HR M&A and RFP practices, she led and matured their HR Business Partners for all health plans in addition to corporate functions. Heather has also held senior roles at cxLoyalty, The Hanover Insurance Group, The Hartford Financial Services, and General Electric. She has a track record of successful execution and driving results in a transformational setting.

View the complete list of awardees

15. Stacy Lanata
Vice President of Supply Chain, Pursuit Aerospace

Stacy Lanata is the Vice President of Supply Chain at Pursuit Aerospace. She first joined the organization in August of 2023. Pursuit Aerospace is a global manufacturer of complex aircraft engine components that are developed through highly integrated processes and lean-focused production systems. Their exceptional quality is driven by a deep investment in and the daily practice of continually improving their people, processes, and products. Stacy has over 20 years of experience.

Prior to joining Pursuit Aerospace, Stacy served as a director of strategic sourcing for Pratt & Whitney. She earned an undergraduate degree in political science and government from the University of Connecticut.

17. Elsa Nunez
President, Eastern Connecticut State University

Elsa Nunez is the President of Eastern Connecticut State University, a public university with a private college atmosphere. Under Nunez’s leadership, Eastern Connecticut State University has received several major national recognitions, including being ranked the #1 public regional university in New England in U.S. News and World Report’s 2021 Best Colleges ratings, Eastern has also been awarded a Green Campus status by the Princeton Review 14 years in a row. During her administration, Nunez has forged closer ties with the local and statewide communities, led a campus-wide strategic planning process, and shepherded the opening of an expanded and remodeled Student Center; a 174,000-square foot state-of-the-art Science Building; the new Center for Community Engagement; and other campus improvements. A new 118,000-square-foot Fine Arts Center was completed in the spring of 2016, the renovated Communication building reopened in August 2018, and Goddard and Shafer Halls were renovated in 2019.

Before joining the Eastern community, Nunez served as Vice Chancellor for Academic and Student Affairs in the University of Maine System from 2003 to 2006. Before her appointment in Maine, she served as Provost and Vice President for Academic Affairs at Lesley University. Prior to that, she was the University Dean for Academic Affairs and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs at the City University of New York. Nunez also served as Associate Dean of Faculty at the College of Staten Island of The City University of New York from 1986 to 1992. She received her BA from Montclair State College, an MA from Fairleigh Dickinson University, and an EdD in language education from Rutgers University.

18. Diane Lopes
Head of the Integration Management Office & Transformation Management Office, RWA Wealth Partners

Diane Lopes is the Head of the Integration Management Office and Transformation Management Office with RWA Wealth Partners. As a national independent wealth management firm, RWA Wealth Partners offers an experience like no other. They manage wealth for individuals and families with complex needs who value a one-stop solution.

Prior to her current role, Diane served as a VP with Edelman Financial Engines, and before that, as a VP at Aetna. Earlier in her career she served as a VP of retirement services and continuous improvement leader at MassMutual Financial Group. Diane is a Lean Six Sigma Black Belt and a process optimization expert in healthcare, financial services, and investment planning processes. She graduated from Southern Connecticut State University with an undergraduate degree in research psychology.

19. Alison Rossi
VP of Offerings & Enablement, Bluum

Alison Rossi, a seasoned professional with a heart dedicated to education, currently serves as the Vice President of Offerings and Enablement at Bluuum. Her journey is a testament to the seamless fusion of her passion for teaching and her remarkable prowess in the realm of technology. A true educator at heart, Alison's story began in the classroom setting, where she discovered the joy of witnessing "lightbulb moments" in her students. These moments, when understanding sparked and knowledge blossomed, fueled her commitment to the transformative power of education. Little did she anticipate that her journey would lead her into the dynamic world of technology and ultimately to a leadership role at Bluuum.

What sets Alison apart is her belief that the core qualities of an exceptional salesperson align seamlessly with those of a great teacher. Her role transcends conventional boundaries, as she sees herself as an educator on a mission to enlighten her clients. Each day, she channels her passion, logic, follow-through, creativity, and compassion into her work, aiming to recreate the same illuminating experiences she once provided to her students.

Alison's problem-solving prowess is a hallmark of her professional journey. Confronted with challenges, she responds with a resounding determination to find solutions. Ask her a question, and she'll connect you with someone who knows the answer. Challenge her with the notion that something can't be done, and she'll craft a viable path forward. As her role has evolved, Alison remains driven by an insatiable curiosity and an unwavering commitment to facilitating "lightbulb moments" for others. Her core values form the bedrock of her professional ethos: Passion fuels her endeavors, Logic guides her decisions, Follow-through ensures results, Creativity sparks innovation, and Compassion shapes her interactions. 

Known for her respectful disruptiveness, Alison consistently seeks a better way and fearlessly runs towards challenges, embodying a spirit that welcomes big ideas but thrives on the excitement of executing them. Her career trajectory reflects an individual unafraid of pushing boundaries and embracing change to foster growth.  Alison's journey into the technology sector began with roles as a project manager and account executive, where she seamlessly blended her educational background with her newfound expertise in managing complex projects and cultivating client relationships. Joining Bluuum was a natural progression, allowing her to merge her profound love for education and training with the dynamic landscape of educational technology.  She currently balances her role at Bluum while completing her Doctorate in Strategic Leadership at Liberty University.

20. Lauren Benedict
Chief Revenue Officer, Spotter

Lauren has over 20 years of sales and sales strategy experience in the media and technology industry. She currently serves as the Chief Revenue Officer for Spotter. Spotter empowers top YouTube creators to accelerate their business and unleash their full creative potential by giving them access to the capital, knowledge, and community they need to succeed at scale. As the top provider of creator-friendly growth capital, Spotter tailors investments to meet the unique needs of each creator they partner with, giving them the freedom to create without compromise.

Lauren is a pioneer in connected and streaming TV with a career anchored in helping advertisers navigate emerging media channels and platforms in an evolving video and TV ecosystem. In January 2022, she joined MNTN as SVP of Enterprise Sales, where she was responsible for building and leading a new team that focused on working with large advertisers. Prior to joining MNTN, she spent more than a decade with Hulu and Disney in various sales, strategy, and leadership positions. Upon integrating Hulu into The Walt Disney Company in 2021, Lauren assumed the role of SVP of addressable sales and was responsible for leading the addressable team and revenue for multiple lines of business across the Disney Portfolio. Under her leadership, the Disney addressable sales team achieved three consecutive billion-dollar quarters. Lauren also spent time at NBCUniversal where she set the strategy and sold the first full episode player and was also responsible for securing charter launch sponsors of newly created Hulu.

Lauren is consistently pushing for transformation within the advertising industry and feels fortunate to have the opportunity to help marketers take advantage of emerging platforms through creativity, technology, data, and innovation. Her impact has been recognized by CableFax as a 2021 Most Powerful Women awardee and she is also a recipient of the She Runs It Changing the Game award, where she was recognized in the Brainwave Category. Lauren is a founding member of Chief, a women’s executive leadership organization. A passionate leader of people she is motivated by supporting and mentoring others as they develop in their career and how they balance this professional growth with their personal lives. She is grateful for the leaders and peers who inspired and invested in her and the teams she has been fortunate to be part of and she aspires to give back and make a similar impact, especially to those who are early in their career.

24. Carolina Cavalcante
President, Tilcon Connecticut

Carolina Cavalcante is currently President at Tilcon CT, a CRH Company, which she joined in April of 2022 as a chief operating officer. Her professional career with CRH began over 16 years ago as a strategic business analyst in Atlanta, GA. She also had the opportunity to work in Amsterdam, Netherlands with CRH’s Europe Materials Division before returning to the United States as sales manager of aggregates for Texas Materials.

Cavalcante holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Industrial and Systems Engineering from Georgia Institute of Technology and a Master of Business Administration degree from Harvard Business School. Cavalcante spent her early childhood living in several countries and was raised mostly in Brazil. She moved to Farmington, CT in May of 2022 and enjoys spending her weekends with her husband and two boys, typically on a soccer field. 

25. Maya Gat
Co-Founder & CEO, Branching Minds

Maya Gat is the Co-Founder and Chief Executive Officer of Branching Minds, a system-level K-12 education technology platform that brings together innovative, easy-to-use technology with the latest insights from the learning sciences to help districts achieve an effective multi-tiered system of support (MTSS). Branching Minds' mission is to empower all educators to effectively, efficiently, and equitably support the holistic needs of all of their students; and to create a path to academic and personal success for every learner.

Maya sets the vision and strategy for Branching Minds' dynamic team of seasoned educators, learning scientists, and technologists - driving towards solutions to some of education's most pressing problems of practice. She is deeply committed to equitably improving student academic outcomes and well-being and is honored to have the opportunity to serve over 1.5 million kiddos and thousands of teachers in nearly every state across the country.

Prior to founding Branching Minds, Maya spent 17 years working with children, youth, and adults as an educator in various capacities both inside and outside the school system. She received her MS in education from Sarah Lawrence College and an undergraduate degree in urban studies and fine arts from the University of Pennsylvania.

View the complete list of awardees

30. Lindsey Lynes
SVP of Client Services, Brown Bag Marketing

Lindsey Lynes is an advocate of brands and people. As a member of the executive leadership team, Lindsey combines her experience across marketing, HR, operations, and finance to bring the right mix of creative solutions to meet an organization’s needs. From established brands to new ventures, she develops custom solutions that scale with her clients as they grow. As a player/coach, Lindsey believes continuous learning is paramount to success—and has been known to reinvent herself a time or two.

Lindsey is currently the Senior Vice President of Client Services at Brown Bag Marketing where she leads brand and business strategy for a portfolio of clients, as well as a team of marketing professionals. Aligning her client’s goals with the roadmap to get them there, she is focused on developing the right people and the appropriate processes to ensure long-term success. Ever evolving and multi-dimensional, Lindsey leveraged her technical and business acumen to lead Vetlocity, a technology start-up, and her passion for growing talent as the VP of people and culture, before heading up her current team.

When she isn’t guiding her clients or the next generation of professionals, Lindsey stays busy leading her two young children in many of the same things—positivity, showing up, and leading with grit and grace. Lindsey was born and raised in Georgia but now enjoys calling coastal Connecticut home. She holds an undergraduate degree in marketing and sales and a Certificate in Business Leadership from The University of Georgia and is SHRM certified.

31. Maureen Miles
Founder & Managing Partner, 4M Capital

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 its 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.

35. Patricia Macrae
Vice President of Government Markets, Point32Health

Patricia Macrae is the Vice President of Government Markets. Point32Health is the parent organization of Tufts Health Plan and Harvard Pilgrim Health Care, representing New England’s most iconic non-profit healthcare 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. 

With 30+ years of experience in health care, Patti is an impactful, passionate, and proven leader. She has a diverse range of expertise including strategic and business planning, complex program oversight and implementation, business integrity, organizational effectiveness, and the ability to effectively collaborate at all levels of an organization to ensure results are delivered on time, on budget, and satisfy stakeholder needs. Her professional passion is to deliver highly effective and simplified solutions, all with a keen focus on improving community health and helping people on their path to better health.

Active in her community, Patti is a member of Women United (to support the United Way of Central and Northeastern Connecticut) and was co-chair of the 2019 Power of the Purse. Also in support of the United Way, she is a consulting mentor as part of the Emerging Leaders Society's annual case competition to address food insecurity; is a member of the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees for Catholic Charities, the Archdiocese of Hartford; and, a lifetime member of Girls Scouts of America. 

Patti is trained in Lean Six Sigma Black Belt principles and is a licensed life and health producer in Connecticut. She graduated from the University of Hartford with an undergraduate degree in marketing and business management.

38. Neesha Mathur
Executive Director, Novartis

Neesha Mathur is a renowned senior digital strategist, marketer, and product leader. She's a lifelong learner, empathetic, and excites the teams she leads and works with to get deeply curious about how their customers think, make decisions, and act. Neesha’s strength is building sound strategies and then building the roadmaps to get those initiatives into the market - she’s a strategist with an execution orientation and a winner’s heart. She currently serves as an Executive Director of Novartis.

Neesha’s proven her innovative mindset by earning 2016 honors as one of LIMRA’s Top 25 Rising Stars in Innovation Under 40 years old. Her work rebuilding a leads generation and scoring model totally reframed the way her marketing team was approaching marketing campaigns, programs, and marketing automation led to millions of dollars in cost savings, hundreds of hours saved - plus 2.5 FTE that could be deployed more effectively, much happier customers, and a 10x increase in lead conversion.

In 2019, InsuranceNexus named her their North American Customer Ambassador of the Year for the behavioral science she was bringing to her company. Her work is driving a sea-change that starts with customer journey and behavior maps, quickly leads to learning agendas and hypothesis building, developing MVPs, establishing clear and actionable KPIs, and in-market experiments that allow for quick results that are implemented immediately and result in double- and triple-digit ROI. Neesha moves beyond ideas and makes innovation, customer value, and improved outcomes a reality. She is a sought-after speaker and speaks regularly at events and industry conferences.

39. Sharmin Mahmud Price
Director of Advancement, Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art

Sharmin Mahmud Price is the Director of Advancement at the Wadsworth Atheneum Museum of Art in Hartford, Connecticut. As a key member of the Leadership team, Mahmud Price is responsible for raising $5M in support of the Museum. She is in charge of conceiving, planning, and executing the museum’s fundraising strategy and engaging donors in a new strategic direction while fostering a vibrant culture of philanthropy. An accomplished development professional with over 20 years of experience in the arts and cultural sector, Mahmud Price most recently served as director of individual giving at the Studio Museum in Harlem, NY. She has held previous positions at the Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts, the Metropolitan Opera, and The Juilliard School. 

Her wide-ranging experience and skills as a fundraising leader and strategist have created long-term sustainability and key organizational growth. She successfully directed major gifts and patron programs, cultivating a robust pipeline of high-net-worth donors, and raising significant revenue for general operating support, major gifts, exhibitions, and programmatic services. Mahmud Price also manages large-scale events and international donor travel programs and helped to launch Planned Giving programs across many non-profit organizations. 

Mahmud Price studied both visual and performing arts abroad in France, Germany, Holland, and Spain. She is a culture enthusiast with a passion for opera, ballet, and contemporary art. 

40. Chanda Allen-Baffoe
Executive Director of the V2500 Program, Pratt & Whitney

Chanda Allen-Baffoe is a high-impact senior leader with a proven record of success in engineering and manufacturing operations in both domestic and international environments. She combines financial and business planning with tactical execution to optimize long-term gains in performance, revenues, and profitability. Her extensive experience in Six Sigma, project management, global supply chain, and non-profits makes her a key organizational leader and asset. A resourceful and results-driven leader, Chanda demonstrates exemplary project management skills and proficiency in employing best practices that improve operational efficiency while reducing costs and increasing productivity. She currently serves as an Executive Director of the V2500 Program

Chanda’s key accomplishments include managing an $800M commodity, one of the largest at Pratt & Whitney, and driving the delivery of the most pivotal components in the premier Geared Turbo Fan engines. She was previously selected as the GE Power & Water Service Manager of the Year for outstanding leadership and contribution to the African region. There, she doubled the region’s revenue, expanded the Field Engineering knowledge base by developing a local training program, and developed and executed a continental hiring strategy that led to a 75% ex-patriot dependency reduction. Chanda earned an undergraduate degree in electrical engineering from the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign and a master’s degree in management and finance from Georgia State University. She was a participant in the UTC Emerging Leaders Program at the University of Virginia Darden School of Business.

41. Kathleen A. Corbet
Founder, Cross Ridge Capital

Kathleen Corbet has over 35 years of global leadership experience in the financial services industry and two decades of experience in board governance for corporate, civic, and philanthropic institutions. She is an entrepreneur and Founder of Cross Ridge Capital, LLC, a firm she launched in 2008 specializing in private investing and strategic consulting in the financial information services industry.

Corbet also serves on the board of directors for Massachusetts Mutual Life Insurance Company and Clearwater Analytics. Previously, she has served on the boards of AxiomSL, BlackRock TCP Capital Corp, and CEB, Inc. She was formerly president of Standard & Poor’s and previously an EVP at AllianceBernstein LP and CEO of the firm’s fixed income division.

Committed to her community, Corbet currently serves as an elected Selectman in New Canaan, Connecticut, and previously served on the Town Council, Board of Finance, and the Connecticut Housing Finance Authority. She also serves as a Justice of the Peace for the State of Connecticut.

In the non-profit sector, Corbet serves as a past chairman and board member of Waveny LifeCare Network providing healthcare, hospice, and senior living options for seniors. Previously, she has served on the board of trustees for The Jackson Laboratory and Boston College, where she graduated with an undergraduate degree in marketing and computer science. Corbet earned her MBA in finance with distinction from New York University's Stern School of Business.

42. Jacci Robinson
Director of the Enterprise Ecosystem, PartnerTap

Jacci Robinson is the Director of the Enterprise Ecosystem for PartnerTap, the leading partner ecosystem platform for the enterprise. PartnerTap gives partner and sales teams everything they need to automate account and opportunity mapping, share and track partner pipelines, identify new sales opportunities, and enable co-selling across complex partner account teams.

Jacci has over 12 years of experience in the technology services segment, with a stint at a start-up. As a top producer, she built programs to increase customer retention and engagement, delivered sales training for new hires, built channel programs, and crafted pricing and engagement strategies for new markets and service offerings. She was a mentor to many and has retained strong brand recognition across the markets she’s served. Her superpowers include bringing people together, creating inclusive environments, and leading with empathy. In addition to her role with PartnerTap, Jacci serves as an advisory board member for the Executive MBA Program at the University of New Haven.

View the complete list of awardees

43. Paula Seapan
Director of Project Management and Strategic Initiatives, Peli BioThermal

Paula Seapan has successfully led and executed key strategic initiatives for the last 20 years. Today, she is the Director of Project Management and Strategic Initiatives for Peli BioThermal. Peli BioThermal, a subsidiary of Pelican Products Inc., is a leader in the cold supply chain, providing temperature-controlled packaging and service solutions to the global life sciences industry. The company's products ensure that delicate biological materials arrive intact and effective, despite exterior environments. Peli BioThermal is dedicated to developing innovative products designed to fulfill the complex needs of the global life sciences industry. Peli BioThermal’s customers benefit from its extensive expertise in ensuring that temperature stability is maintained throughout the distribution chain. The company also offers a complete portfolio of services and software to support end-to-end temperature-controlled packaging asset management.

Originally from Dearborn, Michigan, Paula graduated from the University of Notre Dame with dual degrees in Chemistry and Chemical Engineering. Prior to joining Peli BioThermal, she held engineering, project management, and capital management roles in the semiconductor and optical disc manufacturing industries. Paula is a certified Project Management Professional (PMP). In her free time, Paula is a volunteer and active supporter of 'A Hand Up', a Hartford-based program that works to support those who are currently transitioning from homelessness to housing by connecting them to donations of household goods and furniture.

44. Christina Sanchez
Director of Development, Grants & Outreach, Community Health Services

Christina Sanchez is the Director of Development, Grants, & Outreach at Community Health Services, Inc. (CHS), a non-profit Federally Qualified Health Center (FQHC) in Hartford, Connecticut. CHS has been providing quality care to the underserved Hartford community since 1970 and is the second-largest community health center in Hartford and the second-oldest health center in the state of Connecticut. Christina manages over 25 State, Local, and Federal Grants of over 10 million dollars. She also oversees the organization's new Development Department and Outreach Department, which has served the Hartford community for over 30 years.

Christina's twenty-year career serving non-profits, municipalities, government, and higher institutions is rooted in grassroots prevention outreach, allowing her to grow into the leader she is today. She is most proud of her career in non-profits serving communities in need, all while collaborating with the twelve sectors of the community. Christina often leans on her personal experiences growing up in poverty rooted in addiction and breaking the cycle of trauma for her own family. She stays true to her roots, treating everyone like family. "If you are about the mission of non-profits, then everything will fall into place. It's as simple as that. The mission is greater than yourself - it's about someone else going through a harder time than you."

45. Mariana Monteiro
Executive Director of Global Diversity & Inclusion, Lockheed Martin

Mariana Monteiro is the Executive Director of Diversity and Inclusion for Lockheed Martin. She first joined the company in 2022. Headquartered in Bethesda, Maryland, Lockheed Martin is a global security and aerospace company principally engaged in the research, design, development, manufacture, integration, and sustainment of advanced technology systems, products, and services.

Prior to joining Lockheed Martin, Mariana served as the head of global workforce diversity for Raytheon Technologies, and before that, led the DE&I function in Otis Elevators. Earlier in her career she worked as a consultant supporting Blackstone and Thomson Reuters in change management and organization optimization at Refinitiv. She 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. Mariana received her JD at La Plata National University and an MBA from the Krannert School of Management at Purdue University.

48. Erika Santiago
Senior Director for Program Management, Cigna

Erika Santiago is a Senior Director for Program Management at 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, its mission is to improve the health, well-being, and peace of mind of those they serve by making health care simple, affordable, and predictable.

Erika is a strong insurance professional with 19 years of experience in the virtual care, sales, marketing, healthcare benefits, analytics, product management, and operations arena. She is passionate about her team's professional growth and is always looking for innovative ways to highlight a high-performance culture. Erika gives back to her community through work with the CT Science Center, supporting our youth’s engagement with STEM education.

Previously, Erika 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. Erika earned an MS in communication of information technology from Bay Path University and an undergraduate degree in communications from Curry College.

49. Uneeder Ruth
Director of Women & Girls Programs, YWCA Hartford Region

As Director of Women and Girls, Uneeder Ruth is responsible for the day-to-day operation of the program by effectively planning, organizing, and coordinating the development of programs and events. Uneeder is passionate about ensuring that the program is in alignment with YWCA’s overall mission of eliminating racism and empowering women. She also supervises, motivates, trains, and evaluates program staff. The Women and Girls is designed into four components:  Young Women Leadership Corps, a year-round program serving girls ages 12-17 that builds personal leadership, teaches decision-making skills, promotes college and career readiness, advocacy, and healthy relationships in ten schools in the Hartford Region, YW Career Women, a program that helps women build a strong foundation for their families and earn a college degree that will lead to financial sustaining wages, and Tech Lab and Coursera,  programs designated to create diversity in technology career opportunities through digital skilling.   

Uneeder has been an important part of the YWCA Hartford Region for nine years. She has over 25 years of management experience and 18 years working in non-profit organizations.  She holds a B.S. degree in Organizational Leadership, she’s a certified coach with Say Life Coach Institute, an approved program of the International Coach Federation, an author of the book Wounded Warriors, and founder of Dreams Realize Resource Center, LLC.  She has participated in the Building Evaluation Capacity program, the Alumni group, the Hartford Workforce Leadership Academy, sponsored by United Way, and the Middle Management Institute sponsored by the City of Hartford.  She was honored as the 100 Women of Color honoree in 2019 and received the FLOMAS Award in 2023.  

Uneeder also serves as a leader at the Citadel of Love in Hartford and lives by her motto “Giving Up Is Not an Option”. She is grateful for her mentors and leaders who have inspired and pushed her to greater heights and deeper depths during her career journey. She strives to pay it forward by motivating, helping, and encouraging others to reach their desired goals by giving them an opportunity to succeed through one-on-one coaching.

View the complete list of awardees