MEET OUR TRAILBLAZERS: Women's History Month
March is Women’s History Month! This month, we wanted to highlight several YMCA staff leaders, learn about their experiences, and hear their advice for others. We hope you #EmbraceEquity by learning about these women and others who have trailblazed in history.
JENNIFER FEDERICI, Chief Marketing & Communications Officer
What’s Your Walkup Song? High Hopes - Panic! At The Disco
How long have you been with the YMCA? 9 years
What's something people don't know about you! I was a Texas Rangers baseball blogger for Fansided, a Sports Illustrated digital content network.
Share an accomplishment you’re proud of. As a Latina from an underserved and under-resourced community, it means the world to me to be able to be in the role I'm in at the Y and to serve as Board Chair for Girls on the Run DFW. So many have come before me, and I'm forever grateful to them. I can't wait to see all those who come after.
When you look back over your life, has a pivotal moment gotten you where you are today? Very early in my career, I had a supervisor who was VP of Marketing for a very large for-profit organization. Despite the high level of responsibility and time commitment that came with her role, she gave me space to learn and fail. She saw more potential in me than I did. I came out of that job with graphic design and web development experience, both things I had never done before. Those also both happen to be two skills that have been instrumental to my success up until this point in Marketing & Communications.
Why is having women in leadership positions so important? Every person who ever spoke of their belief in my potential to me was a woman. Educators, leaders in the workspace, and across all places, those people were women. I firmly believe in "if you can see it, you can be it." Our young people need to see themselves in all spaces and places.
SALLIE MARTINEZ, Associate Executive Director, White Rock YMCA
What’s Your Walkup Song? Sia - Unstoppable
How long have you been with the YMCA? 7 years
What's the best part of your job? Being able to change the trajectory of a person's life for the better.
Share an accomplishment you’re proud of. Graduating from law school in May 2021.
When you look back over your life, has a pivotal moment gotten you where you are today? My mother would bring me to work with her while she was on staff at Parkland Hospital, and I learned very early that a person's work ethic speaks volumes about who they are as an individual.
Why is having women in leadership positions so important? Having women in leadership positions allows others to see that it's possible to work toward securing similar positions.
What piece of advice could you give to women and their allies? Just because you don't feel welcomed does not mean you do not belong there!
JODI NEWMAN, Vice President of Childcare Operations
What’s Your Walkup Song? Stronger - Kelly Clarkson
How long have you been with the YMCA? 11 years
What's something people don't know about you? I've worked and/or studied in Kenya, Lithuania, Poland, and England.
Share an accomplishment you’re proud of. Working 3 PT jobs to put myself through college, then moved from the east coast to the west coast, alone and with no family or friends, to begin a new career....
When you look back over your life, has a pivotal moment gotten you where you are today? In 2006, something "clicked" with me. God gave me peace about the adversity I had faced in my life and a passion for helping women use what they’ve experienced with labels, hurtful pasts, failures, and fears to fuel them to become fierce female leaders and advocates- working together for a brighter future and embracing JOY and HOPE on life’s journey. Post Covid, I've learned to listen more, love more, and that includes listening to my own body and mind-- and loving myself!
What does it mean to see (or be a part of) a Women's Employee Resource group? Providing a safe place to have real conversations. A space for education, advocacy, and a place to belong.
Can you share any tips on how to #EmbraceEquity in the workplace?
1. Communicate the importance of managing bias and be aware of unconscious bias. Educate yourself and talk to others!
2. Promote pay equity.
3. Make it easy for your people to participate in employee resource groups.
4. Mix up your teams.
5. Find your voice.
6. Put yourself at the table to learn from other strong female leaders.
7. Ask for a mentor.
8. Be a mentor.
NAVREET POINTER, Regional Executive Director, Childcare
What’s Your Walkup Song? Girl on Fire- Alicia Keys
How long have you been with the YMCA? 16 years
Share an accomplishment you’re proud of? I earned my Bachelor's Degree in 2020 during COVID. It was scholarshipped by Y USA, Dallas Y, and a scholarship fund through Springfield College. I was so thankful for this opportunity to earn my degree and to get it paid for through an organization/people who believes in me and pushes me to be better every day!
What's something people don't know about you? I am a mother of 5!
When you look back over your life, has there been a pivotal moment that got you where you are today? There are so many! It is so hard to narrow it down to just one. I would say becoming a mother at a young age and not having a full support system during this time. Without God and the strength he gives me daily, I would not be where I am today.
Why is having women in leadership positions so important? Women bring a different perspective to businesses. They have the nurturing spirit that we all need. The balance between men and women is important.
What piece of advice could you give to women and their allies? Never let anyone tell you you are less than others. Life is not easy, but it is what you make it. A man once told me that he did not think I would ever become a program director, but look at me now! I allowed that comment to push me, and I was surrounded by women who pushed me to be who I am today.
RODRIGUA ROSS, Vice President of Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion
What’s Your Walkup Song? Hustlin - Rick Ross
How long have you been with the YMCA? 23 years
Share an accomplishment you’re proud of. Being named one of the top 50 Women Leaders in Dallas for 2023.
What's the best part of your job?
Changing narratives through helping people learn more or change their experiences.
What's something people don't know about you!? I like to sew.
When you look back over your life, has a pivotal moment gotten you where you are today? No. But there has been this groundswell of pivotal moments that, if you don't consistently remind yourself to live in the moment, you will miss them. Admittedly, I did miss some of them. It was only in hindsight that I could see how all those seemingly small things built to where I am today.
Why is having women in leadership positions so important? Representation matters! Women deserve to see and experience other women in leadership roles. Doing and being. Every human being needs to see that mirroring. Also, just by virtue of our lived experiences women bring such a unique and valuable perspective and set of behaviors to any environment.
What's your personal motto? We over me!