In honor of Women’s History Month, on March 23rd, 2022 SOS Children’s Villages Illinois hosted its second annual Women in Leadership Forum entitled: Treat Your Future With Respect. Delphine Rankin, Chief Operating Officer, on behalf of the SOS Illinois Racial Justice Committee served as the moderator for the panel discussion. The goal of the Forum was to open a dialogue with women from various backgrounds and industries to share their personal stories, experiences, knowledge, and tips with a theme of laying the groundwork for one’s own professional success. To conclude the event, Kelsey Balk, Chief Strategy Officer at SOS Illinois, shared closing thoughts that we offer as a reflection for the event.
Panel Discussion on YouTube
Interested in seeing the entire panel discussion? We have the video posted on YouTube. (Click link to view entire event.)
As a recap to the event, Opening Remarks were provided by:
- Jackie Sharp Akins, Chief Executive Officer, Lakeside Community Committee
Featured Panelists included:
- Angelica Alfaro, Associate Director, University of Illinois System
- Michelle Bloom, Talent & Culture Manager, Swissôtel Chicago
- Kimberly Evans, Executive Vice President, Head of Corporate Sustainability, Inclusion, and Social Impact, Northern Trust Corporation
- Patricia McClure, Hospital Interim CEO, Montrose Behavioral Hospital
- Jamie Rhee, Commissioner, Chicago Department of Aviation
And the Forum Host was:
- Delphine Rankin, Chief Operating Officer, SOS Children’s Villages Illinois
Reflection on the Forum
Delphine Rankin and Kelsey Balk, as co-chairs of the Racial Justice Committee at SOS Illinois were thrilled to be hosting our second annual Women in Leadership Forum.
Our first ever Women in Leadership Forum was launched last year in 2021 and we were so thankful to have last year’s panelist, Jackie Sharp Akins, here again to provide opening remarks as well as for providing us with this year’s theme of Treat Your Future With Respect. This was advice she gave in last year’s event and it really resonated with our panelists and attendees.
We thank Angelica, Michelle, Kimberly, Patricia, and Jamie for their time and for sharing such incredible and insightful stories and advice.
Dr. Sharp set the stage by reminding us not to be shy, to network, to be our own best advocates, and to dream beyond our job descriptions.
Angelica gave the advice of saying yes to opportunities to open doors. To then put yourself in the driver’s seat and choose which doors you go through. She also reminded us all that respecting your future involves respecting our communities as well as respecting our mental and emotional futures, not just our career futures.
Commissioner Rhee, who recently celebrated the adoption of her daughter, advised us all to lead by example. She spoke of the importance of mentors to help guide the fire and drive of the younger generations. She advised us all to get out of our comfort zones, take risks, and take opportunities to learn. In her experience, operating with honor and integrity is more important than experience, as skills can be learned. She also shared her teamwork tactics of treating feedback as a democracy. She recommends getting ideas from everywhere and everyone and to continually educate yourself and your teams.
Kimberly spoke of the importance of knowing your Why. In regard to addressing the stigma around diversity and inclusion, she stated, “that the stigma can only live to the degree that the people in the room allow it to live.” She advised that we need to challenge instances of injustice head on in the moment and to use our voices and to find allies to use their voices as well. She advised that you don’t need to have your whole future planned out, just your next step, and to know you can adjust or even leave. She encouraged us to fail, that we don’t need to be perfect, but to build an almost perfect network of support to help us along the way.
Michelle agreed and said we owe it to our future selves to put in the work now, make mistakes, and not to compare your journey to others. She spoke about motivating herself and her teams by knowing and communicating the Why and to put your relationships at the core of your actions.
Patricia advised that taking on more responsibilities at work is an investment in yourself, in your career, and in your character. She encouraged us to take advantage of ways to educate ourselves and that there are many free opportunities out there that we can all take advantage of. She also spoke of creating allies through finding commonalities, to start small and build on it.
Delphine said it may be Women’s month, but this is Women’s Time!
Everyone spoke of challenges they’ve experienced on their journeys, however they also spoke of facing those challenges head on and of the immense progress we can make, and have made, together.
That is a recurring theme for us and that’s why we all came together for this Forum. We are all working towards making change happen to create a more just and equitable future for those who come after us.
In addition to the amazing work the panelists do with their respective organizations, we want to also thank them for the work they do in our communities, including their support of our mission here at SOS Children’s Villages Illinois. We appreciate all of our wonderful speakers, Angelica, Michelle, Kimberly, Patricia, and Jamie, as well as Delphine and Jackie, and everyone who attended. We hope you are inspired to go out there and make a positive change!
More About the Racial Justice Committee
SOS Illinois recognizes the existence of racial inequities and felt the need to create a committee to discuss how we are all impacted and what we can do to make a difference. As a Committee, our stated goal is: Advance the core mission of SOS Children’s Villages Illinois by critically assessing and creating strategies with a focus on innovative methods to create on-going plans for continued areas for education, training, and advocacy to promote equality, address racism and bias, and advocate for social justice reforms both within the organization and surrounding communities.
Read more about our committee, as well as the amazing events and activities they have hosted here.
If you are interested in learning more about SOS Children’s Villages Illinois’ Racial Justice Committee, please feel free to reach out to Kelsey Balk at email@example.com