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Black Women Execs Speak On Success And Leadership Issues

Washington, DC, – “Black Women on Change” delivered riveting lessons on leadership from a powerful pantheon of black female executives in top management roles at Fortune 100 companies. With distinctive perspectives and styles, the panelists told the audience of over 100 how to face down fear, embrace change and navigate seismic shifts in the workplace, economy and life. The event, which was open to rising diverse executives, was presented by The Executive Leadership Council® (The Council) at the conclusion of its annual Black WomenÂ’s Leadership Summit of 75 executives within three reporting levels of the CEO of their companies.

“Black Women on Change” is the first in the next generation of events based upon the renowned “Black Women on Wall Street” series that for eight years showcased successful financial women of color with electric authenticity. This year the event was moved from New York City to Washington, DC in recognition of the nationÂ’s capitol as the new seat of power and catalyst for business change. 

Jessica C. Isaacs, Chair of the Board of Director for The Executive Leadership Council, shared the organizationÂ’s direction as it approaches its 25th anniversary in 2011. “We have been developing a pipeline of talent for a quarter century. The newly developed ‘Black Women OnÂ…Â’ leadership series is the next step in our ability to reach back and pay forward, achieving our ambitious goals for female leadership. 

“The strategic plan we have crafted encompasses five key pillars for success including professional development and network forum, visibility and recognition, community impact, pipeline development and leadership institute,” she added. The Executive Leadership Council represents more than 380 companies. One third of The CouncilÂ’s membership of 500 is women. 

Co-chairs of the Black WomenÂ’s Leadership Summit Nicole Lewis, Vice President Kelly Services and Leilani Brown, Senior Vice President and Chief Marketing Officer, Congressional Quarterly-Roll Call, welcomed the group and acknowledged The CouncilÂ’s Ann Fudge Scholars program for exemplary young women of color. Named in honor of the former CEO of Young & Rubicam Brands and the first woman chair of The Council, the Ann Fudge Scholarship has awarded $5,000 each to a total of 16 deserving undergraduate and graduate students over the last five years. 

The event was opened with a moment of silence to acknowledge the passing of Dorothy Height, the civil rights and womanÂ’s movement leader for over six decades. 

“Black Women on Change” was moderated by Evern Cooper Epps, Retired President, The UPS Foundation, and Retired Vice President, UPS Corporate Relations. Herself an award-winning icon of pioneering leadership for 32 years at UPS, Ms. Epps led the Foundation through its most dynamic period of growth and change. “The economy may shift and technology speeds forward, but true principles of leadership remain constant,” she said. “We will have much to learn from this panel of the nation’s most influential and inspirational executives – all with blue chip credentials.”

“Black Women on Change” panelists were: 
• Susan E. Chapman, Global Chief Administrative Officer, Citi Realty Services 
• Kim Goodman, President, Merchant Services Americas, American Express Company
• Paula Madison, Executive Vice President, Diversity & Chief Diversity Officer
NBC Universal Company Officer, General Electric
• Racquel Oden, Managing Director, Head of Global Product Strategy & Business Development, Bank of America / Merrill Lynch

Highlights of the discussion of how to manage profound change on a personal and professional level follow: 

How A Leader Manages Change:

Kim Goodman: “Managing change is the foundation of leadership. People will only let go of resistance to change with a leader that they can trust. That leader has to have conviction that the change is the right direction, the flexibility to make change inclusive, and commit the time to make it work. For every hour deciding on change, you need to spend ten or 100 hours of time getting people there.” 

Paula Madison: “I am in the business of news and I think change is fun. I say to my team, ‘Whatever we do, we are going to be the first to do this.’” 

Racquel Oden: “Don’t hold on to the past, embrace change and the opportunity it brings. As in white water rafting, you have to go feet first into the water if you go overboard. Then you can navigate back to safe ground.”

How to Handle Fear of the Face of Change:

Susan Chapman: “You ask yourself, what is the worst thing that can happen< Name it. Then you have to have the ability to go out there and take risks. I like to engage in activities outside of work where I am learning how to operate outside my comfort zone – like mountain biking. Then when you are in a situation when it really matters you are ready.”

Paula Madison: “The first thing in dealing with fear is to confront it. Most people wonÂ’t ask about their performance for fear of what theyÂ’ll hear. But if a change is coming I want to have regular and routine conversations about it. And in the end I know what I am going to be told because I have been asking all along.” 

Kim Goodman: “The only thing you can control is yourself and your responses – and if you are in control, fear does not take over because you are the driver. I would say that life is five percent what happens to you and 95 percent how you respond – with control, assertiveness and thoughtfulness.” 

How to Protect Your Independence:

Susan Chapman: “I characterize it as BMMOC and PMMOC: Before Making My Own Choices and Post Making My Own Choices. Over my life I have had a lot of opportunities – with people tapping my shoulder for assignments and jobs. Until one day I encountered a situation that didnÂ’t work for me and I realized that I need to choose.” 

Paula Madison: “Pay off your house. When I was 24 my brothers and I pooled our money to buy a brownstone in Harlem where we could always go. And I have been sure to develop different income streams ever since. I would tell you that Christian Louboutin shoes are nice. But if you are walking into you boss’ office with your red soled shoes and you are still scared, then they are not worth the price you paid for them.”

Racquel Oden: “I think it is important to have a core group of friends and family with whom you can share what is happening in your life. ItÂ’s also about bringing confidence to work and maintaining good health for me.” 

How to develop your brand:

Susan Chapman: “I bring my authentic self to the table in every part of my life – you have to have the courage to do that.” 

Racquel Oden: “What can be challenging is when you want to change your brand. If you get known for something the brand can overtake you. To get people to look at you in different light and recognize all your talents, you have to raise your hand for different projects and do different things.” 

Kim Goodman: “My brand emerged based upon the professional I am, which is based upon integrity – no games and no shadows. It is also based upon raw hard work. My colleagues know that I am going to give it my all.” 


The Executive Leadership Council is an independent, non-profit 501(c)(6) corporation, founded in 1986 by 19 African-American corporate executives dedicated to a bold mission - to provide African-American executives of Fortune 500 companies with a network and leadership forum that adds perspective and direction to the achievement of excellence in business, economic and public policies for the African-American community, their corporations and the community at large. For more information visit www.elcinfo.com.



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