WARWICK, RI — The Junior League of Rhode Island (JLRI) hosted a Women’s Leadership Roundtable Breakfast on Tuesday, March 8, International Women’s Day at Chelo’s, one of several events celebrating their 100th anniversary.
More than 70 people attended the event, which featured a roundtable discussion moderated by Elizabeth Tanner, Esq., Director of the Rhode Island Department of Business Regulation, about women as catalysts for lasting community change.
“I am proud and inspired to be part of the JLRI’s 100th Anniversary and celebration on International Women’s Day. Having been a part of JLRI’s history and now currently a governmental executive, my work aligns with JLRI’s vision of women as catalysts for lasting community change. Congratulations JLRI!,” said Tanner, a current member of JLRI.
Panelists included Maria Kasparian, Executive Director, Edesia, Inc.; Barbara Papitto, founder and trustee of the Papitto Opportunity Connection; Patricia Raub, a founder of the Providence Community Library; and Vanessa Volz, Executive Director, Sojourner House.
“As we celebrate Women’s History Month, discussions about how we can support and uplift women in our community are so important,” said Barbara Papitto, founder and trustee of the Papitto Opportunity Connection. “At POC we work every day to identify, support and uplift women of color in Rhode Island and I’m glad the Junior League of Rhode Island is providing this opportunity to connect women leaders.”
Panelists discussed barriers they had faced in their various fields, including “having to force the attention of men in the room” when working in male-dominated fields. They also talked about the passion, hard work, and skills that helped them succeed, and shared the advice they would give other women seeking to effect change: “listen to the needs of those you are trying to serve. Don’t forget youth, as they have a vested interest and creative ideas in helping their communities. Keep looking forward versus just focusing on the crisis of the day. Believe in yourself that you can figure it out. Lead by example to start the change. Invite diverse people to join you at the table. Be intentional about diversity, equity and inclusion practices. Understand that everyone’s [work-life] balance is different; learn how to prioritize and the power of saying ‘no.’”
“To me, International Women’s Day is a day to acknowledge and celebrate women for their innumerable contributions to society,” said Maria Kasparian, Executive Director, Edesia, Inc. “At Edesia, our mission is to help treat and prevent malnutrition in vulnerable populations around the globe; our work is possible thanks to women all over the world who play a critically central role in nourishing their children, their families, and their communities.”
“I am honored to participate in JLRI’s Women’s Leadership Panel on International Women’s Day. The day is an important reminder of how a committed, determined group of women can make a profound impact on their community,” said Vanessa Volz, Executive Director of Sojourner House, a nonprofit organization in Providence that has served thousands of victims and survivors of domestic abuse, sexual violence, and human trafficking.
In addition to the panelists, nine women from JLRI’s “The Rhode Island 100” list of outstanding women attended the event, including Hilina Ajakaiye, Angie Ankoma, Ting Barnard, Tracy Baran, Barbara Van Sciver Crouchley, Carmela Geer, Rhode Island Secretary of State Nellie Gorbea, Lisa Guillette and Eva-Marie Mancuso.
JLRI’s year of celebration will culminate in its Centennial Celebration on May 10, 2022 at the University Club in Providence. At the event, JLRI’s “The Rhode Island 100” list of outstanding women will be formally recognized.
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