The Women's Leadership Alliance is hosting a panel discussion "Concrete Ceiling: The Challenges Women of Color Face in the Workplace" Thursday, May 12 at the Boardman Library in Poughkeepsie. For more information, or to register, please visit:
Deirdra "Jen" Brown is an attorney in solo practice,with an office located at 272 Mill Street in Poughkeepsie, New York. She received an A.B. in American History from Dartmouth College in 1986, and a Juris Doctor from the University of Chicago School of Law in 1990. After law school, Jen won a coveted position as law clerk to United States District Court Judge Joseph H. Young in Baltimore, Maryland. Following her clerkship Jen served as an Assistant Federal Defender for the Eastern District of Tennessee for five years, followed by four years as an Assistant United States Attorney for the Northern District of Alabama. Jen's Poughkeepsie law practice concentrates on the defense of employees in the workplace. Her clients include workers victimized by race or gender discrimination, sexual harassment, gender based pay disparities, and retaliation for exercising one's rights under the family and medical leave act (FMLA).
Karla has 25+ years experience in the insurance industry. She began her career in South Florida working for regional insurance carriers in many different roles. Her vast experience includes commercial underwriting, marketing, management, reinsurance. She holds a master degree in business administration and her insurance designations include Accredited Adviser in Insurance and Associate in Underwriter. After 16 years in the insurance company side, Karla transitioned to the independent agency/broker field in the role of Commercial Client Manager and she is a Licensed NYS property & casualty broker. As an employee of the Ralph Ellis Insurance Agency she has been successful managing a large book of business and providing exceptional customer service and technical support to all her clients Her role include new business development, marketing accounts, and counseling clients while providing customized solutions tailored to their unique needs.
Sarah Lee is the Chief Executive Officer of the Dutchess County Local Development Corporation and Executive Director of the Dutchess County Industrial Development Agency. Ms. Lee is responsible for overall strategic planning, program development and delivery and budget preparation for the agencies. She will also oversee administration resource management, organization linkages and staff supervision of the DCLDC and its departments, including the Business Attraction and Business Retention and Expansion. Sarah Lee joined the former Dutchess County Economic Development Corporation in July of 2013 as a Business Development Specialist. Less than a year later, she became Director of Business Development. Lee previously held the position of Director of Business Development and Strategic Planning for Health Quest. Ms. Lee holds a Masters in Public Administration from the Maxwell School at Syracuse University and is a graduate of SUNY Albany.
Mecca E. Santana is the Vice President of Diversity & Community Relations for Westchester Medical Center. As the head of the Office of Diversity and Community Relations, she is responsible for building and leveraging relationships with external stakeholders in the diverse communities that make up the Hudson Valley, while also ensuring that all internal organizational policies and procedures are aligned with diversity and inclusion best practices. Prior to this position, Ms. Santana served as the Chief Diversity Officer for the State of New York. Appointed by Governor Andrew Cuomo in September 2013, Ms. Santana was responsible for the creation and implementation of recruitment and retention initiatives designed to promote workforce diversity and inclusion, while also leading new initiatives to increase Minority & Women Owned Business (MWBE) procurement opportunities. Ms. Santana holds certifications from Cornell University’s School of Industrial and Labor Relations in Equal Employment Opportunity Studies and Diversity Management. Ms. Santana, who is licensed to practice law in both New York and New Jersey, graduated from Hofstra University School of Law in June 2000. As a law student, Ms. Santana represented clients in both the Criminal Justice and Domestic Violence clinics. Ms. Santana is a graduate of the State University of New York (SUNY) at Albany, where she double majored in Criminal Justice and Political Science. Ms. Santana was born and raised in Syracuse, NY and currently resides with her family in Rockland County.
Cindy M. Smith CPA is a local accountant that services clients worldwide. A graduate of CUNY Lehman in 1986 Cindy worked in Manhattan, Westchester and since 2001 in Dutchess County. Cindy worked in public accounting and in industry for over 15 years. Thereafter started her accounting firm, first offering tax and accounting consultation services. Then expanding services to include auditing and financial statement services. Cindy was born and raised in the Bronx. Raised in the affluence of diverse cultures, provided an opportunity to develop an appreciation of the individual strengths in every culture. Strong ties to family and community grounds Cindy to provide a steady path of service