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Meet Five Remarkable Women Igniting Change by Advocating to Advance Women Leaders:

September 29, 2023 Katharine Panessidi

Linkage Announces the 2023 Winners of the Women in Leadership Executive Impact Award

On November 13-16, 2023, at the Women in Leadership Institute™ in Orlando, Fla., Linkage will recognize five extraordinary leaders with the Women in Leadership Executive Impact Award. This prestigious designation recognizes executives who have helped catalyze a culture of inclusion and support at their company to elevate existing women leaders while identifying and cultivating new ones.

This year’s honorees have demonstrated a tangible commitment to achieving gender-balanced leadership and identifying, promoting and advancing both promising and established women on their team so they can reach new levels of leadership and impact.

Each year, Linkage recognizes exceptional leaders who are committed to women’s progress in their organizations and their communities.

Right now, committing to the advancement of women leaders is more critical than ever.

Why? Gender-diverse and inclusive organizations achieve better business outcomes. As organizations face constantly evolving new gender-specific challenges, advancing women leaders has become a business imperative. These factors have made it nonnegotiable for organizations to invest in real solutions to elevate, retain and advance the amazing women leaders who power their success and innovation. In the face of such a critical need, the work our Impact Award winners have accomplished should set a new standard for companies to strive toward improving gender equity at the organizational level.

Meet five remarkable women who have ignited impactful and lasting change for women through their leadership, dedication and innovative initiatives:

  • Aida Sabo, Senior Vice President, global diversity, equity and inclusion, Parexel
  • Dr. Jakki Opollo, RN, MSN, MPH, NEA-BC, Vice President, talent initiatives and Regional Chief Diversity Officer, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist
  • Joy Wilder Lybeer, Chief Revenue Officer and Senior Vice President, global partnerships, Equifax
  • Traci Wade, Group Vice President, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Oracle Corporation
  • Telisa Yancy, Enterprise President, American Family Insurance

Get to know this year’s winners of the Women in Leadership Executive Impact Award

Aida SaboAida Sabo, Senior Vice President, global diversity, equity and inclusion, Parexel

As senior vice president of diversity, equity and inclusion for Parexel, Aida sets all programming for the company’s DEI strategy to integrate DE&I into Parexel’s DNA. Essential elements of the company’s DEI strategy include:

  • Promoting an inclusive environment companywide through “Gender Partnership” in which all genders flourish.
  • Engaging men as advocates and champions.
  • Promoting Race and inclusion.
  • Empowering a diverse workforce.
  • Leveraging analytics to identify and address institutional blind spots and barriers.

According to her nominator, “[W]hile others are debating the merits of various DEI training, Aida focuses on empathetic listening and bridging across differences. When people feel seen and heard, they feel a sense of belonging, regardless of gender, race/ethnicity or other differences. Aida’s solution to advance gender inclusion is built upon this framework.”

Her work extends to global initiatives in India, Germany, the U.K. and Ireland, China, Japan, South Africa, Argentina, Brazil, Romania and other regions globally where Parexel has operations. She has launched a leadership and inclusion forum to enable thought-provoking discussions with community and industry leaders.

“Aida’s approach is methodical—one conversation at a time. … She gives herself completely into inspiring others, never shying away from the difficult conversations of the reality of inequity, so that all in the room feel they are working and united together. In doing so, others see themselves as part of the narrative, an important piece of the solution and, importantly, as a leader in DEI and able to take the charge and execute with autonomy,” her nominator shared:

“This is a rare gift, an approach that is less about limelight and more about the work that brings in one person at a time. The result time and again, is responses [that echo the sentiment] ‘Aida inspired me to be an ally.’”

Dr. Jakki OpolloDr. Jakki Opollo, RN, MSN, MPH, NEA-BC, Vice President, talent initiatives and Regional Chief Diversity Officer, Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist

Dr. Jakki Opollo is the vice president of talent initiatives and regional chief diversity officer at Atrium Health Wake Forest Baptist. In this role she is responsible for leading organizational strategies that drive positive business outcomes and embed diversity, equity and inclusion best practices in the programming of DE&I initiatives that impact patients, teammates, learners and communities served.

Her nominator shares what inspires him the most about this exceptional leader: “Dr. Opollo inspires us all to champion equity FOR ALL in alignment with our mission, vision and culture commitments. … She is visionary, results-driven and an avid champion for excellence.”

Dr. Opollo was integral in championing the implementation of the African American Women Exemplifying Commitment to Equity & Leadership (A2WeXcel) Talent Initiative. This strategy is aimed at building and implementing a sustainable strategy to ensure adequate attention for A2WeXcel System Resource Group members to drive tactics aimed at attracting, recruiting, selecting, retaining, growing and engaging African American and Black women at Atrium Health.

“Dr. Opollo is an amazing leader who finds her source of discretionary energy through amplifying career equity and lifting our health care heroes and aspiring leaders. Her meaningful work is reaching those that need it the most. This recognition is a true testament to her courage and commitment to be an ambassador for transformative equity, which includes disrupting the root causes of the disparities we see in the workplace. This includes addressing policies and practices that perpetuate structural exclusion. She has led major strategic efforts to establish organizational guidelines and programs that support inclusive talent management practices,” says her nominator.

Joy Wilder LybeerJoy Wilder Lybeer, Chief Revenue Officer and Senior Vice President, global partnerships, Equifax

Joy Wilder Lybeer is a passionate and insightful leader who brings more than three decades of strategic and operational experience to her role as Equifax U.S. Information Solutions (USIS) chief revenue officer (CRO) and senior vice president of global partnerships. Ms. Wilder Lybeer has been recognized by both the automotive and banking industries as a top leader in these verticals. During her tenure, she has also held enterprise responsibility for the auto vertical and retail banking practice, where revenues more than doubled under her leadership.

Her nominator speaks to the impact she has made at the company on a more personal level:

Ms. Wilder Lybeer has built a high-performing team whose award-winning alliance management competencies are recognized as superior by the industry. She is considered a “partnering expert” who collaborates with third parties to drive foundational, incremental and transformational opportunities, extending reach and creating profitable innovation for the marketplace. Right now, she’s building on her proven track record of driving sustainable business growth.

As her nominator shared with us, “One of Joy’s primary leadership capabilities is attracting, developing and promoting talent, especially women. Of the 15 members on Joy’s leadership team who report to her directly, 10 of them are women. High-performing women are eager to work for Joy because they see her commitment to development and her track record of promoting women. She connects women with other leaders to ensure they have every influence, experience and opportunity to realize their full potential.”

Traci WadeTraci Wade, Group Vice President, Global Head of Diversity and Inclusion, Oracle Corporation

According to her nominator, “Regardless of their career stage, Traci’s passionate demeanor and eloquent communication motivate everyone to contribute their best while feeling supported, valued and heard. Her influence transcends geographical boundaries, touching every region where Oracle operates, making Traci a unifying force for diversity, inclusion and belonging in Oracle.”

As group vice president, global head of diversity and inclusion (D&I), Traci Wade leads global programs that build awareness of the business impact and value of a diverse and inclusive culture at Oracle. She engages with senior leadership in creating and supporting strategies that infuse and elevate a culture of diversity, inclusion and equity into the workplace. Her team actively leads and supports Oracle’s employee resource groups to help build companywide communities, develop future leaders, encourage partnerships and retain talent.

Traci played a key role in establishing the company’s first D&I strategy and team more than a decade ago and has been providing leadership and guidance ever since. Regarded as a strategic and inclusive thought leader and expert on the subject, she has received recognition and numerous awards from a wide variety of publications and organizations for her commitment and success in leading D&I corporate efforts and outreach.

“Traci’s commitment extends to advocating for diverse voices and perspectives across the organization through global investments that promote a more diverse and inclusive environment in general and women’s growth in particular. As a staunch supporter, she mentors and sponsors diverse talents, assisting them in envisioning their growth trajectory,” her nominator says.

Telisa YancyTelisa Yancy, Enterprise President, American Family Insurance

Telisa sets the tone by consistently demonstrating inclusive leadership behaviors herself. She has been named as one of the most influential Black executives by Savoy magazine and made the top 100 list alongside notable and influential leaders such as the Obamas, Michael Jordan and Beyoncé.

As enterprise president of American Family Insurance, Telisa directs strategy and operations for product, marketing, claims and all business units for both the agency and direct sides of American Family Insurance Group companies. Previously, she oversaw direct-to-consumer companies as the company’s president and served as the COO of agency business and CMO of the American Family Insurance Brand.

As her nominator shared, “Telisa, an accomplished executive leader, is known not only for her exceptional business acumen but also for her unwavering dedication to promoting women’s empowerment and fostering inclusive leadership within the American Family Insurance Group of companies. Her actions and values serve as a beacon of inspiration for her colleagues and employees, influencing positive change throughout the company.

“She goes out of her way to mentor talented women within the organization, providing guidance, sharing her experiences and creating opportunities for their growth. Telisa fosters a workplace culture that encourages collaboration, mutual respect and a sense of belonging.

“Through [her] actions and her steadfast commitment, Telisa inspires others to embrace the principles of inclusive leadership, creating a workplace where diversity is not just respected but cherished as a source of strength and innovation. Her leadership style not only benefits women but also transforms the organization into a more collaborative, forward-thinking and successful entity.”

Join Us in Celebrating These Women Changemakers at WIL 2023

Congratulations to all these extraordinary women who are serving as trailblazers within their organizations and beyond. We’re so excited to feature their thought leadership at this year’s edition of the Women in Leadership Institute (WIL) 2023. We hope you will join us to get inspired by this year’s winners of our Women in Leadership Executive Impact Award.

We can’t wait for you to see how you can bring back key learnings to your company to make women leaders and gender equity top priorities. Attend with your team to create maximum impact for your organization to uplift and elevate women leaders at every level and influence lasting organizational change.

Dark haired woman watches from audience of conference event

Women in Leadership Institute

NOV. 13–16, 2023 | Orlando, Florida, or Virtual
A 4-day immersive learning experience designed to equip women leaders with actionable strategies to overcome the hurdles women often face in the workplace.

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Advancing Women Leaders

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