Women in Leadership: How Culture & Commitment Contribute to Career Progression

June 23, 2022
12:00 pm


Career advancement is something most people think about and want from their employers. But what does it take to navigate the proverbial corporate ladder? In this session, five women shared their different experiences working in industry and will describe what they did to pursue their professional goals, and what their employers did to support their career development. Research and strategies were shared to demonstrate what organizations can do to fix the “broken rung,” which impacts women early in entry-level leadership roles.


LaSonja Smith, Vice President of Cloud Support, Hyland
Cari Molnar, Lean Six Sigma Black Belt, 3M Medina Manufacturing
Meghan Bates, President, Luke Engineering
Jennifer Varanese, Global Account Sales Director, Oswald Companies
Jennie Lopez, Associate VP, Global Talent Acquisition, Eli Lilly and Company


Kathy Sullivan, Principal and Owner, Talent Principles



Available to WEPAN members only. Log-in required.
Available to WEPAN members only. Log-in required.


LaSonja Smith

LaSonja Smith joined Hyland in 2015 and leads the division that combines Cloud Services Management, Business Continuity, Cloud Operations, and Cloud Operational Excellence. In previous roles with Hyland, she served as the Director of Global Services, Cloud, the Director of Global Services Center of Excellence (CoE), and the Director of the Cloud Transformation Office focused on leading complex, disruptive change and driving efficiency and bottom-line impact. LaSonja’s work was recognized with industry awards for dramatic improvements and innovation in professional services productivity and customer service and for technology deployments that achieved exceptional, quantifiable business results. She holds a master’s degree in computer science, University of Tennessee, Knoxville, and a bachelor’s degree in mathematics/computer science, Talladega College, Alabama.

Cari Molnar

Cari Molnar has experience as a quality engineer, manufacturing product engineer, and product development engineer. She has a bachelor of science in chemical engineering and a certificate in biotechnology specialization from the University of Akron and a graduate certificate in quality systems from Bowling Green State University. 

Meghan Bates

Meghan Bates is the president of Luke Engineering & Anodizing Co. The business was started by her grandfather, and she is the third generation of leadership. she enjoys helping customers with their challenges and being an essential supplier to the U.S. economy. She has over fifteen years operations experience as an account manager, project manager, plant manager, and general manager. She is a 2021 graduate of the LEAD insitute, and a board member of the AMB and the Scholarship Foundation of Wadsworth. She has a bachelor of arts from Valparaiso University and a masters of business administration from Belmont University. 

Jennifer Varanese

Jennifer Varanese has over 20 years of business development and executive leadership experience in the insurance industry, specializing in risk mitigation, operational growth and efficiency, talent acquisition and retention, and innovation and marketing strategies. She began her career at Oswald in 2020 bringing her experiences in efficiencies, claims analysis and population health management to assist clients and clients with growth initiatives. Varanese spends much of her time in the development and execution of Oswald’s Global Growth strategic plan. She specializes with internal union leadership, retail, manufacturing consulting to effectively administer all benefit programs.  

Jennie Lopez

Jennie Lopez is originally from Puerto Rico and moved to the US to complete her MS in Chemical Engineering.  Her background is in Manufacturing & Quality (including Site Head roles) and the business side (Chief Operating Officer). She is currently the Associate VP leading Global Talent Acquisition for Eli Lilly and an executive board member for the Organization of Latinx there. In 2021 she joined the Board of Directors for Genesis Research. She also found success in her dancing and fitness careers, including: Back up dancer, TV shows, NFL Cheerleader/Captain, and Zumba Master Trainer. Jennie is a featured author of the book Hispanic Stars Rising Volume 2.  She is a guest speaker at many local and national organizations and was awarded 2020 Working Mother of the Year.  

Kathy Sullivan, MA
Principal & Owner, Talent Principles

Kathy Sullivan, the owner of Talent Principles, has over twenty years of experience leading human resource teams, managing operations, and implementing organization-wide change initiatives. She has worked in a variety of industries including healthcare, high-tech, engineering and professional services within small and mid-sized companies. Kathy leads people, systems, processes and programs around the full employee life-cycle in order to attract, develop, retain and transition talent effectively. These efforts result in higher levels of productivity and employee engagement, improved organizational effectiveness, profitability, and increased customer satisfaction. Her expertise is in strategy development, business & human resource consulting, project management, process improvement, leadership coaching, group facilitation, and program development. She is a Board Certified Coach through the Center for Credentialing & Education.

Kathy values helping clients meet current and future business demands through implementing talent development strategies that align with business purpose. She is active in preparing the next generation workforce by developing students and faculty from various schools, teaching important skills and leadership capabilities as they get ready to begin their careers in an ever-changing business environment. 

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