Women are now leaving the workforce at four times the rate of men. What needs to be done to alleviate this? 

This stat indicates that women are losing choice. Between the pay gap issue and domestic inequities at home, we have a sad state of affairs. To reverse this trend, we’d need a major cultural reset of expectations for women at home, at work and policies that ensure subsidies for childcare and equal compensation. In the meanwhile, we can all make a difference right now. We can hire women, compensate them equally and provide flexibility for them to better navigate home/work life.

Who was your mentor and what are you now doing to send the elevator back down?

My earliest professional mentors were all men in the entertainment industry: Reggie Miller, Gordon Paddison, Jeff Clanagan and Quincy Newell. I learned how to be relentless, how to treat every project as if my own money were on the line and to exceed my personal best the very next time I got the chance. I don’t believe I’ve ever adequately thanked them, so now they know. 

Now, I have the most amazing women mentors from agency life in Gretchen Eberhart, Snev Dorsonne and Sharon Callahan. They teach me how to give myself grace, and how to look beyond the work to define my legacy. Although I’m plenty ambitious, they take turns casually dropping professional suggestions that change my life. I cannot thank them enough for the clarity they bring. 

I am very deliberate about sending the elevator back down and investing in upcoming talent. I hope my mentorship process encompasses the best-of hits from my mentors. Walking mentees through a career visioneering exercise where they spend time fantasizing about their ideal endgame is my favorite activity. It helps them back into an actionable plan that fills the gaps in their development. I believe my mentees keep me young. I get so energized by their revelations, their wins and the fact that they’ll be sending their elevators back down, too. 

What is your golden rule at work?

Generosity equals growth. If I tell you what I know, I expect you to tell me what you know. My curiosity fuels my collaboration with others. Frankly, this golden rule is the only way I know how to network. I simply do not have the social skills necessary to grow my network any other way. When I need to learn something, I reach out to the people who can help me. In turn, I immediately provide reciprocal support. This approach has provided me with the most amazing professional relationships. 

How have you coped with the unique challenges of the past 12 months?

In the beginning, I didn’t cope well at all. I baked a lot of bread. I read all of the headlines. I stayed up at night and worried. Once I started to gain some semblance of control over my daily routine I began to feel better. But the most rewarding coping mechanism I found was activism. Focusing on petitions and protests for equality gave me purpose. Then last summer a colleague, Nicole Simpson, called and asked me and six others to establish a talent resource group that provides inclusion and retention support for Black talent in Omnicom Health Group. The Black Collective was created within weeks. The group received immediate executive support and the benefits are just too numerous to count. We often marvel at what we call “the collective effect” as we see professional lives transformed before our eyes. 

Another rich area of activism is happening in healthcare: health equity. We have brilliant cross-agency teams providing health equity solutions to the most vulnerable patient communities. CDMP has also generously invested in mentoring three BIPOC students to help increase the diversity in our field. Actively being a part of change in healthcare has been tremendously helpful in getting me through these extraordinary times. 

What are the first things you plan to do when the pandemic ends?

That’s easy! 1. Give big, juicy hugs to family and friends I haven’t seen all year. 2. Attend every single live event within a 50-mile radius with my husband, Al, and our teenagers, Jai and Bobby. I’m talking concerts, plays, exhibits, comedy shows, carnivals, you name it. I miss hearing bass booming as I approach an event. I miss run-walking with my family to movie theaters because we’re late for a show. I miss smelling restaurant food on nighttime strolls down Witherspoon Street in Princeton. These experiences are on the top of my to-do list. I cannot wait!