2024 Georgia Women in Leadership Symposium
March 06, 2024
8:00 AM - 12:00 PM (ET)
Leading With Heart: Empathy, Ethics & Excellence
The Women in Leadership Symposium is a dedicated event that brings together accomplished women leaders, aspiring leaders, and advocates for gender diversity in various industries. The primary objectives of the symposium are to inspire, educate, and empower women to thrive in leadership roles and to promote gender equity and inclusivity in the workplace. This year's symposium theme is, Leading with Heart: Empathy, Ethics & Excellence," which celebrates and explores the importance of compassion, ethics, and excellence in leadership, particularly as they relate to women leaders. Attendees will gain valuable insights, advice, and connections, making the Women in Leadership Symposium an essential platform for advancing women's representation and influence in leadership positions.
Sparkle Allen-Mixson, a seasoned marketing professional with 23 years of experience in real estate, currently holds the role of Senior Vice President of Marketing & Brand Experience at FirstKey Homes. Driven by a passion for brand strategy, empathetic leadership, and challenging the norm, Sparkle excels in digital innovation, using storytelling to humanize brands and energizing teams for success. Part cheerleader, part change agent, Sparkle introduces innovative and customer-focused approaches, aligning with FirstKey Homes' mission of giving resident families a place to call home. Outside the corporate arena, Sparkle is a mother of four, an avid traveler with three continents left to explore, and an entrepreneur managing her international Airbnbs and Etsy shops. Sparkle is actively involved on various boards, including the Zillow Rental Advisory and the National Coalition for Racial Justice & Equity Board.
Crystal Bailey currently serves as the Vice President of Financial Reporting at Americold Realty Trust, Inc. Prior to Americold, Crystal served as the Director of Financial Reporting at the Aaron’s Company, Inc. where she spent the last nine years in financial roles. She also held various assurance roles at Ernst & Young and has extensive finance and accounting experience. Crystal holds a BA in Finance from The University of Georgia and a Master of Accountancy degree from The University of Virginia. Additionally, she is co-chair of Atlanta’s SEC professional’s network and a March of Dimes board member for the Atlanta market. Outside of work Crystal enjoys relaxing with her husband and four children and attending all their various sporting events.
As Senior Vice President, Global Marketing, Mainstream Brands, Jennifer Gribble has global responsibility for EVEN Hotels®, Holiday Inn®, Holiday Inn Express®, Staybridge Suites®, Candlewood Suites®, Atwell Suites™ and avid® hotels brands. She leads development and delivery of overall brand performance; design and experience and food and beverage for IHG’s Mainstream portfolio. Prior to this, she led the fast-paced development of avid hotels, a high-quality midscale offering with a pipeline of more than 200 hotels, and Atwell Suites, a new upper midscale, all-suites hotel brand that began franchise sales in September 2019. In her 17-year tenure at IHG, Jennifer has served as Vice President, Brand Marketing leading the Holiday Inn Express, Staybridge Suites and Candlewood Suites brands; Director, Brand Management, Crowne Plaza® Hotels & Resorts in the Americas and Director, Marketing Services. Prior to joining IHG, she spent four years with Midwest Express Airlines, where she was accountable for management of global distribution carrier agreements and e-commerce initiatives. Jennifer earned a bachelor’s degree in business administration from Butler University, and also completed a liberal arts program in Seville, Spain.
Teresa Palacios-Smith is Chief Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Officer for HomeServices of America, a Berkshire Hathaway affiliate which is one of the country's premier providers of homeownership services, including brokerage, mortgage, franchising, title, escrow, insurance, and relocation services. The highest-ranking Latina in a C-Suite role within the Berkshire Hathaway enterprise. In her role, Teresa oversees the organization’s commitment to employee and agent DEI programs. Teresa has over 25 years of real estate experience and is a sought-after motivational speaker and trainer at national events across the country. Teresa is the producer of two renowned YouTube and Podcast series, Women Who Lead and Diversity MATTERS which airs monthly across social media portals. In 2022, Teresa was awarded Ally of the Year by the LGBTQ+ Real Estate Alliance and featured on the cover of NAWRB’s Magazine for her work in D.E.I. She was also featured in Hispanic Executive Magazine for her work in advancing women in leadership. In 2021, Teresa authored the foreword to From Athletics to Engineering: 8 Ways to Support Diversity, Equity & Inclusion for all by Johnnie Johnson and Dr. Michael Webber. Teresa received the Diversity Leader award by NAWRB, Trailblazer Award at RISMedia and was inducted into RISMedia’s Hall of Fame in 2018. Teresa served as National President for the National Association of Hispanic Real Estate Professionals in 2015 and she is a co-founder of the NAHREP-Atlanta Chapter. She is a founding Executive Sponsor of Berkshire Hathaway Energy’s “Our Familia” and a founding member of the HSoA foundation which is 501c-3 non-profit organization focused on housing equity. Teresa currently serves as a member of numerous industry boards including CNBC’s Executive Workforce Council.
Heena Patel is a trailblazing professional and the Senior Vice President of Human Resources for S. P. Richards Company (SPR), a prominent national wholesale distributor specializing in office products, furniture, and Jan-San goods. As the youngest Senior Executive and highest-ranking person of color within the organization, Heena brings a dynamic and innovative approach to the field of Human Resources. With nearly two decades of experience in HR, Heena is a seasoned leader who views HR as a true business partner integral to organizational success. She is dedicated to empowering both leaders and employees alike, fostering robust relationships, and cultivating a supportive company culture. Heena's strategic oversight extends across the organization's Human Resources function on a national scale. Heena played a pivotal role in the inaugural year of Women In Leadership Development (WILD) at SPR, showcasing her commitment to advancing diversity and inclusion within the workplace. Her academic credentials include a B.S. in psychology, an MBA, PHR certification, and a Change Management certification, reflecting her commitment to continuous learning and professional development. Heena Patel is not only a leader in the corporate world but also a dedicated advocate for inclusivity and cultural richness in both her professional and personal spheres. Beyond her corporate achievements, Heena remains actively engaged in her local Indian community, where she plays a vital role in preserving cultural traditions and promoting a strong sense of family values. She resides in Alpharetta, GA with her husband and two daughters.
Louise works to cultivate an environment in the workplace that sparks creativity, empowers others, and allows for everyone to show up as their authentic selves. Louise’s 12-year career with UPS is filled with a plethora of experiences including Air Operations, Industrial Engineering, Customer Solutions, Community Relations, Diversity, Equity, & Inclusion and various roles in Human Resources. This includes her latest role, Global Employee Experience Manager. Her passion for equity and inclusion is not limited to her professional role, she also strives to bring inclusive practices into a more equitable world through her work in the community. Louise is the Vice-Chairwoman for the Andrew & Walter Young YMCA board, and the Georgia Diversity Council,, and most importantly a PTA Mom. On the weekends, you can find Louise and her daughter Laila, visiting local bookstores, thrift stores, or plant nurseries as she’s a self-proclaimed “Plant Lady”.
Ashini currently holds the position of Director, Americas Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at IHG Hotel & Resorts. With a profound commitment to equity and belonging, she has dedicated herself to fostering collaboration and collective actions essential for advancing successful Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) initiatives across the workforce, marketplace, and society. With 25 years of experience, Ashini has been instrumental in driving innovative strategic initiatives at renowned companies such as Accenture, IBM, Edelman, and IHG. Throughout her extensive career, she served as a senior leader and advisor, collaborating closely with CEOs across diverse industries and DEI-focused organizations. Her efforts have played a pivotal role in helping them achieve their responsible business aspirations and cultivate inclusive practices. Ashini holds a DEI Professional Certification (NDCCDP) from the National Diversity Council, underscoring her expertise in the field. Additionally, she has acquired design thinking certifications from the University of Virginia, Darden School of Business, and the Luma Institute.
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