women in leadership
2021 International Women's Day Virtual Panel
Published Author Category RTP

The Research Triangle Foundation celebrated International Women’s Day with a virtual panel discussion bringing together prominent women leaders from across the Triangle region to share their perspectives and experiences in the workplace. There was so much great insight shared during the conversation—here are a few big takeaways:

As client delivery leader at Luminas Strategy, Brandi Morales-Espinal helps her clients develop winning value propositions for their customers and stakeholders so they can understand what delivers differential value, and identify what items they need to focus on the in the future.

“Learn to manage up. Think of your non-negotiables and what you hope to gain. Have a conversation with your leader about the items that you know you’re good at and want to grow, and what are the things you can work around to help you be successful.”

Brandi Morales-Espinal
Client Delivery Leader
Luminas Strategy

Janie Dzuricky is an environmental engineer at Cree/Wolfspeed. She also holds a leadership role in their Women’s Employee Resource Group, focusing on environmental improvement projects. Janie realized partway through a Ph.D. program what she needed to do in order to flourish and make things happen. After hitting a crossroads, she reassessed her end goal and left the program to dive right into the industry. Her advice:

“Follow your passion. It was the most difficult decision, but when you set your mind to something, you want to do it.”

Janie Dzuricky
Environmental Engineer Cree/Wolfspeed

As the operations manger at Unity Web Agency, Angela Liu is passionate about leveraging her diverse skills, experiences, and abilities to support positive, meaningful impacts in the world.

“Leadership does not always require, nor is it about, power, authority nor visibility. Sometimes it is indirect and behind the scenes. Lead from the highest, heart-centered integrity, regardless of your circumstances.”

Angela Liu
Operations Manager
Unity Web Agency

Shelley Westman is the senior transformation leader at Cree/Wolfspeed and focuses on driving cross-functional transformation across the company to enable next level growth.

“Take action! My motto today is 100% fast and 80% right. In the world of business, you can’t wait until you have all the information to make a decision. Sometimes you just have to say yes.”

Shelley Westman
Sr. Transformation Leader Cree/Wolfspeed

Brenda Howerton is the first commissioner from Durham to serve as North Carolina Association of County Commissioners NCACC President from ’17-’19. As president, her mission was to inspire and support county government’s effort to grow and maintain an environment that fosters the social, economic and physical health of North Carolina’s children.

“We have the ability to amplify voices, and connect with the triangle all across the business community, “Don’t let anyone override your trust and faith in your own ability to do what you need to do.”

Brenda Howerton
Durham County Board of Commissioners

Dr. Paulette R. Dillard is Shaw University’s 18th president. She previously served as the University’s vice president for academic affairs and dean of the college of arts and sciences.

“Many times we have an opportunity to serve in a role that is so influential and you have the ability to promote, mentor or work closely with another individual. Do that! Mentor, coach, put in a recommendation, be willing to recognize talent and potential. Stand up for that person and bring them along as you go. That is something that is undervalued and underutilized. It is critical that we are able to do that.”

Dr. Paulette Dillard
Shaw University

These are all just a few things that stood out, but we encourage you to dive deeper and watch the webinar, tap into your own network, or perhaps even spearhead a gender equity discussion at your organization! It is amazing how much others’ experiences can inspire us.

An hour wasn’t enough to fit all of the amazing women that were nominated to participate in the panel. Read on to meet a few more that shared some advice and perspectives with us.

As the VP of RTI International, Dr. Doris Rouse manages the coordination of diverse disciplines to address major global health needs. Her research interests include development of new drugs and drug therapies to combat antibiotic resistance and antimicrobial resistant strains of bacteria. 

“I am most proud of the role I played in identifying and managing the development of a new drug for effective treatment of extensively drug resistant(XDR) tuberculosis.”

Dr. Doris Rouse
Vice President
RTI International

She shares some advice and a bit more about her work in the Triangle here.

Dr. Anna Alicea of BASF shares her thoughts and advice on forging connections and succeeding in your career during a global pandemic:

“LinkedIn is such a powerful platform for building new relationships and finding mentors inside and outside of your organization. LinkedIn will allow you to search individuals with specific titles, education, and experiences. I have found that most people will respond to my messages and are open to discussing their experiences.”

Anna Alicea Ph.D. 
Collegiate Relations and Early Talent Development, APN/H⁠
AAEG President, North America

See what else she has to share about work/life balance during COVID-19.

Lisa Branch is dedicated to serving the Triangle community. As the Operations Manager of Connect Cause, she is able to help empower nonprofits through the use of affordable up-to-date technologies.

“Accepting a position at Connect Cause two years ago and being able to help empower nonprofits through the use of affordable up-to-date technologies has produced my most proud moments!”⁠

Lisa Branch
Operations Manager 
Connect Cause

Read the rest of her story and share her love for nonprofits here.

Bridget Pittman-Blackwell is a graduate student at NCCU studying general psychology. She is also a communications associate intern at RTI International. Having previously worked at the City of Raleigh, she shares her thoughts about working in the Triangle region:

“Working in the Triangle means being able to impact the community even if you are not physically there. Whether through research, policy, or connections that you make.”

Bridget Pittman-Blackwell
Communications Associate Intern
RTI International

Watch the video she shared with us here.