Aurora Women and Girls Foundation at the Capitol

Monday, April 9, 2018

Aurora Women’s Leadership Forum: Taking a Seat at the Table

HARTFORD, CT -- A standing-room-only crowd gathered at the Legislative Office Building on April 4 to hear from an inspiring panel of regional women leaders as they shared their personal journeys to leadership and discussed how to promote more women to leadership roles now and in the future. Representing business, nonprofits, and government, women leaders on the panel offered examples of gender bias in the workplace. Jill Hummel, President and General Manager of Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of CT asked the audience how many women had been told to “smile more” during a performance review. Hummel went on to describe the anti-bias training now in affect at her company that she hopes will pave the way for more women in upper management.

Dantaya Williams, Vice President for Human Resources at UTC Pratt & Whitney, was pleased to report that UTC has signed the Paradigm for Parity, pledging to have 30% of senior roles filled by women by 2030 and has already very nearly reached the 30% goal. The key, she suggested was careful monitoring of hiring and promotion to keep striving to surpass those goals and guarantee that forward progress continues. Elisa Bannon-Jones, Senior Vice-President of Talent & Culture, Frontier Communications, was pleased to report that Frontier had also taken the pledge, and emphasized that successfully realizing the goal would take a complex and dedicated strategy as the company works to ensure the advancement of more women to its top ranks.

State Senator Beth Bye emphasized the importance of working on the level of policy to advance women’s leadership, career success, and financial security. Bye cited the Pay Equity and Paid Family Leave bills as important legislation that she will champion during this legislative session. State Representative Lezlye Zupkus encouraged all of the women in the room to think of themselves as leaders and to bring other women along with them.

Yu-Hui Rogers, Site Director for Genomic Medicine, Jackson Labs, discussed the continuing perception that scientists are men and suggested that as women are now beginning to surpass men in college graduation rates, hopefully that perception will change.
Adrienne Cochrane, incoming CEO of the YWCA Hartford Region, ended the panel with this inspiring way forward: “Solutions to anything cannot be driven by one particular group. As Gloria Steinem said, ‘A feminist is anyone who recognizes the equality and full humanity of women and men.’ It’s an ideology not a gender based thing. Everybody can make a change and it starts with us individually.”

The forum was convened to share newly released data from the Aurora Women and Girls Foundation on Women and Leadership. The data reveals that only 27% of executives at Fortune 500 companies in Hartford County are female and none are CEOs. However, there is a proven link between more female representation on corporate boards and financial success for firms. Connecticut companies are committing to increasing the number of women at their executive levels. The call for more women in leadership positions is also being heard in politics. Although now two of the eleven state senators and six of the thirty-eight representatives from the Hartford region are women, record numbers of women are running for office in 2018.   The number of women mayors in towns across Hartford County has more than doubled from four to twelve, suggesting that more women are already becoming involved in local government. Publishing this data, Aurora seeks an answer to the question “How can more women take a seat at the table and provide leadership across the region?”

This program was supported with funding from the Richard P. Garmany Fund of the Hartford Foundation for Public Giving in honor of Lydia Garmany.

A recording of the event can be accessed at Connecticut Network >>


Karen Jarmoc
Board Chair, Aurora Women and Girls Foundation and CEO, Connecticut Coalition Against Domestic Violence
Jennifer Steadman, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Aurora Women and Girls Foundation
Jill Hummel
President and General Manager, Anthem Blue Cross Blue Shield of CT
Dantaya Williams
Vice President for Human Resources, Pratt & Whitney Commercial Engines
Elisa Bannon-Jones
Senior Vice-President of Talent & Culture, Frontier Communications
Yu-Hui Rogers
Site Director for Genomic Medicine, Jackson Labs
Adrienne Cochrane
Incoming CEO, YWCA Hartford Region

Catherine Smith
Commissioner of the CT Department of Economic and Community Development
State Senator Beth Bye (D-West Hartford)
CT Senate Deputy Majority Leader
State Representative Lezlye Zupkus (R-Prospect)
CT State Representative

Diane Smith, Moderator
President, Diane Smith Media
About the Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls
The Aurora Foundation formed to serve as a catalyst for change in the lives of women and girls in Greater Hartford, with the intended effect of unlocking the potential of their families and surrounding communities.

  • We conduct research and convene the community to promote understanding of gender issues, and to foster collaboration for effective solutions.
  • We educate and engage men and women in the power of philanthropy to improve social and economic outcomes for women and girls, along with their families and communities.
  • We implement strategies — including targeted grantmaking — that take aim at obstacles to empower women and girls in Greater Hartford.

Aurora also encourages women and girls to engage in philanthropic efforts that benefit their communities. We offer advocacy, annual structured learn-by-doing training in grantmaking, and recognition of their efforts.

Photo: Panelists for the Aurora Women’s Leadership Forum (left to right): Moderator Diane Smith, Jill Hummel, Elisa Bannon-Jones, Lezlye Zupkus, Catherine Smith, Jenny Steadman, Dantaya Williams, Beth Bye, Yu-Hui Rogers, Adrienne Cochrane, Karen Jarmoc.



Laurie Robillard
Aurora Foundation for Women and Girls


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