As Million Women Mentors embarks on our fifth year in operation, we are excited to build on the progress we have made and share authentic insight into the world of mentoring through our #BeyondtheBuzzword campaign. Part of this work is showcasing the leaders who have paved the way for women across industries and set a true example for girls and women across the globe. We know that leadership comes in many forms and that there are many avenues to success. The 2019 Million Women Mentors Leaders to Learn From series showcases the career paths of STEM leaders who have followed unique pathways to attain their current status. Every month we will celebrate the story of a new trailblazer who beat the odds and define what it means to be a role model. These profiles will celebrate individuals who persevere against convention and remind young people and seasoned veterans alike that there is no longer a “traditional” means to career success.
“There is an idea [that you have] of what your life is going to look like based on the expectations and opportunities of the people around you.” Kate Marshall grew up in a working-class neighborhood in San Francisco as the oldest of six children. She was a very intelligent and shy child whom at age 12 wanted to be a librarian. “I could never image having a career where I would have to speak in front of people, let alone be a public person.” She worked extremely hard to push through socioeconomic roadblocks and graduated with a bachelors and then law degree from the University of California, Berkeley. “I have been blessed to walk past the boundaries that I thought were set on me from childhood].” In November of 2018 Kate was elected Lieutenant Governor of Nevada after running a campaign that championed her strong beliefs in workforce development, small businesses, and education.
As Senior Vice President, Chief Diversity and Engagement Officer, Umran leads the work of executing a sustainable road map for PepsiCo’s Performance with Purpose (PwP) People goals and a future-focused diverse and engaged talent agenda. PwP People goals include achieving gender parity for management roles by 2025, pay equity for all, and fostering prosperity in the global communities in which PepsiCo operates. She is a dynamic and fearless leader whose extensive career highlights include supporting the Million Women Mentors chapters in Saudi Arabia and India; leading Water Hope, a collaborative social enterprise bringing clean drinking water to millions in poverty across the Philippines; and Litre of Light, bringing clean energy to poor communities across Asia, Africa, and South America. In Myanmar, she led a partnership with UNESCO to build a Business Skills Development Center to support women’s advancement, and in her home country of Turkey, she led the opening of GAP-Cheetos Reading Rooms in South East Turkey to support kids and youth for their education beyond school hours.
A passionate entrepreneur and business leader, Halleemah Nash has been a tireless advocate for underserved populations throughout the entirety of her career. From working in sports philanthropy to expanding her portfolio to public housing with the Chicago Housing Authority where she was a director of youth opportunities, to leading a youth mentoring organization, Halleemah always ensures that she uses her wide array of skills for the benefit of others, particularly those from disadvantaged communities. In her current role, Halleemah creates opportunities for young people in Chicago to gain exposure to social capital and careers that have the potential to create pathways to wealth generation. Knowing the importance of exposure herself, Halleemah guarantees that groups of students who may not have seen themselves as likely candidates for lucrative careers in investment banking and similar occupations are able to see a different narrative for themselves and combat a Belief Gap that traditionally has boxed them into a more narrow range of expectations. Halleemah understands this because she herself once felt boxed in by these narrow expectations.
Corlis Murray, now Senior Vice President, Quality Assurance, Regulatory and Engineering Services at Abbott, grew up in inner-city Dallas during a time when women graduating with STEM degrees were rare. Now that she has found her own way in a successful engineering career, changing the narrative for young women has become a top priority. Working with interns as young as 15 years old to demystify the world of STEM, Corlis is determined to make the lack of representation of women and minorities in STEM a thing of the past. “The fix is bigger than my company or me. It’s bigger than a hashtag, a summer camp or a STEM day. We need people in powerful positions — educators, policymakers, scientists — to join together to reach girls and minorities early, painting a picture for them of what the future could look like.”
“I come from a family of strong, passionate and resilient women. My mom is one of five girls, and I am one of three girls. During childhood I had the opportunity to see my grandmother, mom and my aunts pursue different career paths, raise children, and support their families and community. This inspired me to do the same.” Monique Rhodes is a Director, Communications in the Office of the CIO at Prudential Financial. After joining the company in 1998, her path to reach where she is today was not a traditional one. “I’m a creative. I never thought that I could build such a fun and engaging career at a 140+ year old Financial Services company. I’ve been at the company for 20 years and half of that time has been spent in technology. It’s been exciting to see how technology has changed in the last ten years. What’s kept me here is the great people, mentors, learning opportunities and varied experiences.”