I am passionate about education. My education unlocked opportunities for me and gave me confidence to compete. It has opened my mind to new ideas and with new ideas come innovation. I’ve had the extraordinary experience of being the first female and African American to run one of Alcoa’s largest aluminum manufacturing plants located in Cleveland. I’ve lived the story. I’m an example of what women and minorities can achieve with an education.

As chief diversity officer, I am looking for the best and brightest people to bring to our organization. Our innovation backbone relies on employees educated in STEM disciplines: science, technology, engineering and math.
Partnering with stakeholders is key to attract, develop, and retain talent.

Sponsors are one way I am fueling STEM development. Throughout time, executive champions have helped men with advancing their careers. Part of my job is pairing women and minorities with influential, successful sponsors. Mentors can coach, but sponsors actively have skin in the game. They take it upon themselves to help develop one’s career and nurture its growth.

Alcoa was able to attract 11 students for summer internships and offered six candidates full-time positions when the National Society of Black Engineers, in partnership with Alcoa’s African-American Heritage group, held its career fair in Pittsburgh.

Finally, involvement in community organizations is invaluable. As a member of the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Education Committee in Cleveland, we focus not only on music, but promote the value of a STEM education in the school system starting in kindergarten. The educational program at Cuyahoga Community College, where I am a vice chairperson on its foundation’s board, is geared toward workforce preparedness largely for the underserved, older, mainly female students who want to advance their education and return to the workforce.

The best and the brightest STEM candidates are challenged, recognized, rewarded and encouraged to develop to their full potential. A STEM career offers tremendous opportunities for women and minorities to take on leadership roles to ensure the next generation of leaders includes diverse viewpoints.