Pennoni hires seasoned DEI professional Erika L. White as first Diversity, Equity and Inclusion (DEI) Program Manager
By Graziella DiNuzzo
Ask Erika L. White about her work and she smiles brightly. She loves her job and has been recognized for her accomplishments. Recently, the National Diversity and Leadership Council named Erika 2021 DEI Champion, a well-deserved award for a woman who has spent the last 20 years in multi-cultural marketing, and the last six dedicated to DEI.
It isn’t surprising that in February 2021, Pennoni hired Erika as its first DEI Program Officer. Pennoni has a proven history of working to advance DEI goals, and this past June 2020 Dave DeLizza, President and CEO of Pennoni, joined other Philadelphia business leaders to sign a “commitment to equity,” penned by The Chamber of Commerce of Greater Philadelphia.
In a press release statement, DeLizza, reiterates, “We will rely on Erika’s expertise to guide Pennoni in creating a Diversity, Equity and Inclusion program with measurable goals and outcomes that will attract diverse talent to our firm.”
“I can tell that the culture of Pennoni is already one of inclusion and is committed to the advancement of diversity, equity and inclusion. We already have a long history of working with a variety of STEM outreach programs and we actively work with several diverse subcontractors to fulfill the needs of our clients,” explains Erika.
Erika’s LinkedIn page, chronicles the almost weekly DEI zoom conversations she has been invited to attend as an expert. She serves as a member of the Board of Trustees for the Shipley School as well as the Board of Directors for the Center City Proprietors Association, and is co-founder of The Philadelphia Diversity Professionals Consortium. But Erika is never too busy to volunteer as a mentor to young women, or act as a regular volunteer in her faith.
Erika’s leadership in the DEI space began in 2007 as Director of the West Oak Lane Jazz and Arts Festival and the Director of Community and Government Affairs for the Ogontz Avenue Revitalization Corporation.
As Senior Diversity Coordinator for Ballard Spahr law firm, Erika helped contribute to the pipeline of diverse lawyers. Most recently, Erika worked as The Pennsylvania Convention Center’s Diversity & Inclusion Manager, “I was able to cultivate a strategy that had a focus of three key elements, supplier diversity, workforce development and supporting the diverse conventions and conferences.”
Numerous written reports say the same thing, and 15Five.com sums it up, “when you make DEI a priority, every facet of your organization benefits, including the bottom line.”
But there can be challenges.
Erika warns that if you don’t do important initial first steps, corporations may find themselves spending unnecessary time and money on consultants and conducting trainings that don’t align with the overall strategic plan and organization’s culture.
“The greatest challenge is the scale of their program and trying not to boil the ocean. A lot of times employers want to make a real impact and make it quickly and largely through making statements, conducting a lot of trainings, programs and initiatives. It may be hard for the company to manage all of those programs and have them feel organic to the culture of the organization. It’s like when you are trying to graft a plant or flower to make a hybrid, the process is very delicate and if done correctly, the process allows the two plants to work together to make something new and strong. It is the same concept with starting a successful diversity, equity and inclusion program. There must be an understanding or assessment of the existing structure and culture of the organization then you can begin to graft the elements of a DEI program into the DNA of the organization. You do this through a detailed assessment of the organization that can include a review of the policies and procedures, current programs, interviews of key stake holders, focus groups, surveys of the workforce, and then goal and strategy mapping.”
For corporations looking to rollout a DEI plan, Erika advises hiring an experienced DEI officer who is well versed in the principles of the work such as bias and cultural competence but also understands the strategy and business case behind implementing a successful DEI program.
“The support of senior leadership is a must, and the program must be routed in an established business element of the organization. For example, at Pennoni I am the first DEI officer and I report directly to our Vice President of Human Resources, Joyce Hess. I also have a dotted line to our Chief Operating Officer, David Pennoni and our Chief Executive Officer, David DeLizza with the full support of the Board of Directors. When the DEI officer is connected to a fundamental business element like Human Resources and the Operations Department, they have access to the necessary data and the overall operations of the organization.”
What can we expect to see at Pennoni in the coming months?
“Our next steps will be to add structure to our current activities and create a diversity, equity and inclusion strategic plan based on our overarching three pillars of Excellent Reputation, Profit and Growth and our values of Honesty, Integrity and Service,” Erika smiles.
Congratulations Erika and Pennoni!
The same same great information, now condensed into one weekly virtual mailing.
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The 17th Annual Global Business Conference: Proving Greater Philadelphia is Positioned for Success in the International Business Landscape
On the morning of March 25th, our virtual “Green Room” was packed with stellar speakers ready to go LIVE for the 17th Annual Global Business Conference presented in partnership with the Temple University Fox School of Business and its Center for International Business Education and Research. Over the next 3 hours, participants listened, learned, and asked important questions.
Robin van Puyenbroeck, Executive Director of Business Development, World Trade Centers Association, kicked off the conference as emcee. Robin effortlessly moved the conference along on point and on time. Next, our President, Linda Conlin, Ronald C. Anderson, Dean, Fox School of Business, Temple University, and Michael Rashid, Director of Commerce, City of Philadelphia, delivered welcoming remarks to more than 150 attendees.
Our first speaker of the day, Derek Burleton, Vice President and Deputy Chief Economist, TD Bank Group, took on the task of giving a global economic outlook for 2021. The detailed presentation showed a promising future for American companies, especially those located in the Greater Philadelphia Region.
Next came the first Keynote of the conference, "Exporting Fearlessly – Reducing Risk and Expanding Sales" with Judith D. Pryor, Member Board of Directors, Export-Import Bank of the United States and Linda Conlin. The pair reminded the audience of how EX-IM, through local banks and the WTCGP, offers export finance products to increase sales and minimize the risk of buyer non-payment.
Our second Keynote saw Osagie Imasogie, Co-Founder and Senior Managing Partner, PIPV Capital, and Stephen S. Tang, Ph.D., President and Chief Executive Officer, OraSure Technologies, sitting down for a free-flowing fireside chat. The two spoke candidly on the lasting global impact of COVID-19 and strengthening the contribution of the region’s life sciences sector and entrepreneurial class.
Following a short intermission, Gary P. Biehn, Board Chairman, WTCGP, welcomed the audience back and introduced our newest panelists. Moderator Richard Deeg, Dean, College of Liberal Arts, Temple University, led the "Markets in Transition" panel featuring nationally recognized experts Craig Allen, President, US-China Business Council, Marc Mealy, Senior Vice President - Policy, US-ASEAN Business Council, and David Hamod, President and CEO, National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce. Regardless of the challenges faced in these markets – the countries in these regions are open for business.
Closing the conference with a bang, our member companies shared why exporting is good for the bottom line and the lessons learned - the “good, the bad and the not so ugly“ side of exporting, led by moderator Tifphani White-King, JD, EA, Principal, National Tax Practice Leader, Mazars USA. Panelists John M. Curley III, Vice President of International Sales and Global Marketing, Sandmeyer Steel Company, Barrett Fisher, President, Van Horn, Metz & Co., Inc, and David Whitman, CEO, Sunhillo Corporation, all agreed that resiliency pays off.
We take this time to reflect on another successful Global Business Conference and to offer our sincere thanks to our speakers for taking time to share their expertise and up-to-the minute intelligence on what’s happening in international business today, the sponsors who supported us financially, and the professional and student attendees who tuned in.
Thank you to our Sponsors
A New York-born economic and business leader of Egyptian heritage, El-Erian, 62, spoke March 18 in a one-hour webinar co-hosted by the National U.S.-Arab Chamber of Commerce (NUSACC) and ABANA. (To view El-Erian’s introductory remarks only, click here.)
El-Erian is a “Rock Star” in the Financial Community.
NUSACC’s online event attracted over 450 participants from across the United States and around the world, including nine Washington-based Arab Ambassadors.
Bahrain-based Investcorp served as Lead Sponsor, and additional sponsors included Abaris Capital Advisors, LLC and the National Bank of Kuwait. The event included three partners: Beirut-based Arab Federation of Exchanges, the U.S. Export Assistance Center in San Francisco, and the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia.
Dr. Daniel Yergin Leads Wide-Ranging Discussion Covering Geopolitics, “The Big Three,” Renewables, Climate Change, Technological Innovation & Disruption, and the Impact of the Pandemic
Yergin’s Most Recent Volume – The New Map: Energy, Climate, and the Clash of Nations – Selected as “Book of the Year”
This was the first event in NUSACC’s new “Thought Leader Series” of webinars, and the response from NUSACC stakeholders was excellent. More than 400 business leaders and senior government officials participated in the webinar, which included stakeholders in 40 nations around the globe. NUSACC was also pleased to showcase some of its partners, including the Los Angeles Chamber of Commerce, the Union of Arab Chambers, the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia, and the World Trade Center of Utah.
In his opening remarks, Yergin explained why he wrote The New Map. He said, “It was the degree to which the world had changed in so many different ways over half a decade, in terms of energy, in terms of geopolitics, in terms of relations between U.S. and China, and in terms of changes in the Middle East region. All of those things came together, with technology continually changing and, of course, with the COVID-19 pandemic on top of that.”
He went on to say, “It seems to me that we are in a new terrain, and we need a map. So, that’s what led me to write The New Map – to provide some framework for thinking and understanding about where these changes are leading us. I hope it provides both for 2021 and beyond.”
David Hamod, NUSACC’s President & CEO, asked Yergin about the three most important ‘takeaways’ from The New Map. Yergin replied, “Number one is the change in geopolitics, particularly the relationship between the U.S. and China. This is very important, obviously, to the Middle East region, because of security arrangements with the United States, and China is a large market. The Arab world doesn’t want to choose between the USA and China, nor do Arab countries want to be caught in the middle.”
Download and read the full NUSACC Press Release here.
In our Winter 2021 Newsletter, we take a look back at the events of 2020, check-in with some WTCGP Members, highlight resources for exporters, and share exciting upcoming opportunities in the local international business community!
Click here to read our Newsletter.
Together with our World Trade Center team, I wish you, your families, and colleagues a happy, healthy and fulfilling New Year!
As we begin 2021, for many, it is with a mixture of relief, gratitude, and impatience as we close one tumultuous chapter and look forward to a new and more hopeful one. In 2020, like many non-profits and the companies we serve, we pivoted and transitioned well to virtual events, including our signature “Bringing the World To PA” and World Trade Centers Day Celebration fundraiser. We created new programming to meet immediate needs of our members and to help them stay on course for future growth. By the end of 2020, our team helped companies register some $104M, testimony to their resiliency and the dedication of our team to their success.
And we never lost sight of our commitment to staying connected and of service to our exporting companies -- and to connecting them with one another. We began 2021 therefore with our popular “Member Conversations,” the informal gathering place for our members, that continues to be a great way for people to stay in touch, learn from one another, and share creative solutions for coping with and planning beyond COVID. On March 25, in partnership with the Fox School of Business at Temple University, we will present our Annual Global Business Conference, the region’s first, comprehensive look at the year ahead for the global economy, with international market experts and business leaders offering insight on best opportunities and strategies for success. Our China and India/Southeast Asia Clubs will continue these discussions, meeting throughout the year to share best practices on doing business in these markets.
COVID-19 and its aftermath is a reminder of the role that we will continue to play in Greater Philadelphia’s economic recovery. It is reflected in our new mission statement and 2020-2022 Strategic Plan, “To bring growth and prosperity to businesses, communities, and neighborhoods in Greater Philadelphia and worldwide through global trade.” We will further our mission in traditional and practical ways, with our trademark trade counseling and by introducing an exciting new platform for members to connect and learn from one another. We will open new opportunities for companies to reach new customers through the world trade center network. The World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia will widen its reach to new audiences within our communities, to minority and women-owned businesses with the message that, by selling to the world, together we can grow a vibrant, inclusive, and connected economy for Greater Philadelphia!
Simply stated, we are committed to advancing Philadelphia and the region’s economic and global leadership and place in the world.
As we begin this promising new year, I want to thank our talented team, members, Board and Advisory Council, sponsors and partners for their support and helping to make our good work possible.
Here’s to a great 2021!
The team at the World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia would like to pause this Holiday Season to say “Thank You” for your unwavering commitment to our organization and the prosperity of the Greater Philadelphia Region. Looking back on this past year, we see just how lucky we are to have people like you supporting us.
Throughout 2020, we have been busy adapting to the new virtual business environment, providing virtual educational events, and developing strategies to keep our Member companies engaged globally. As challenging as this year has been, our team has successfully continued to provide the top-tier programming and trade assistance you have come to expect. Therefore, in observance of the Christmas holiday and to celebrate a year of exceptionally hard work, we will be closed from Thursday, December 24 and will reopen Monday, January 4. And our 2020 Annual Review is out now!
Sending you warm wishes this Holiday Season, and hoping to see you in person sometime soon in the New Year!
The WTCGP Team
Written By: Heather Redfern
Philadelphia International Airport (PHL) will welcome Eastern Airlines as its newest air service partner on December 14. The Wayne, Pa.-based carrier will offer nonstop service between Philadelphia and Port-Au-Prince, Haiti, and Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic.
“Having Eastern as one of our partners supports a local company and helps connect underserved markets to the Greater Philadelphia region,” said PHL CEO Chellie Cameron. “So much of travel right now is Visiting Friends and Relatives [VFR]. Yet many Philadelphia-area residents have been unable to make direct connections to visit loved ones from their home airport. By offering destinations like Port-Au-Prince and Santo Domingo from Philadelphia, Eastern is making travel more accessible to so many of our neighbors when they are ready to travel.”
Eastern will launch its PHL service with nonstop flights twice per week to Port-Au-Prince (PAP) and Santo Domingo (SDQ). The airline will use Boeing 767 aircraft, which also allows Eastern to carry cargo. Eastern offers passengers the highest baggage allowance at PHL—up to six checked bags (first two checked bags, up to 70lbs/32kg, are free). Information about the new airline, destinations, baggage policy and service can be found at goeasternair.com.
“We are excited to launch service at our hometown airport, and to offer more non-stop options to the Philadelphia community. With an all-widebody fleet, Eastern is able to carry more of what our customers want to bring on their journeys," said Eastern's CEO Steve Harfst. "Additionally, we are confident that our warm, friendly service will earn this city’s affection and help us to invest here long-term. Philly, pack your bags – we’ll carry them!”
GivingTuesday is an opportunity for people around the world to use their individual power of generosity to remain connected and support their communities.
The World Trade Center of Greater Philadelphia (WTCGP) is the go-to non-profit agency for small and medium-sized businesses conducting business internationally, and now more than ever it is critical to continue our work. Since 2002 we have helped companies generate over $2 Billion in global exports, resulting in the creation of over 26,000 jobs for Southeastern Pennsylvania and Southern New Jersey!
During this pandemic, we have been busy providing virtual educational events and daily assistance to companies. To better understand our impact, you need only read our collection of Member Success Stories. On this GivingTuesday, be sure to follow along on social media as we celebrate the incredible work of numerous Members on social media all day long!
We know that the global economy will rebound from this, and when it does, the Greater Philadelphia region will be busier than ever. Throughout the pandemic we have been working closely with over 300 World Trade Centers that continue to operate to maintain the flow of essential goods and services to our region - especially medical equipment and supplies.
How can you help?
For GivingTuesday, we are asking individuals who care about the economic prosperity of our region, to contribute to WTCGP by giving a charitable gift. Your donation, no matter what size, allows us to hold webinars, provide unparalleled trade assistance, and continue our day-to-day operations.
>>> Give a Gift
We want to make sure everyone can get involved, so below is a list of non-monetary ways you can help WTCGP today for GivingTuesday:
Your assistance will accelerate Greater Philadelphia’s recovery through our programs dedicated to small businesses and to under-served communities as well as expanding important global growth opportunities for minority and women-owned businesses that have been among the most-severely impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.
To our supporters, we offer a sincere thank you. Together we can make our mission a reality - To bring growth and prosperity to businesses, communities, and neighborhoods in Greater Philadelphia and worldwide through global trade and investment.
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