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Building Connections

By empowering women of color in pharma to excel in their professional and personal development, WOCIP aims to change lives, and that starts with building connections.

Women of color in life sciences need to connect with people who understand their unique experiences. Because of building these connections, you gain a network of people who can assist you in finding solutions, advocate for you, and provide support. The following are stories of four members of WOCIP who share their experiences of finding empowerment and connection.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gerena: Expanding the women of color network

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gerena, WOCIP’s Director of Committees, is helping uplift Latina voices.

Why are you passionate about motivating women of color?

There are a lot of hurdles for Black and Brown women in a white male-dominated industry. It’s exhausting to have to prove [ourselves] all the time. Being a teen mother, I became independent and educated. I want to make it easier for the person next to me and after me. We have unique talents and gifts. We add that shimmer to everything we do.

What is WOCIP’s Cafecito con Leche which you created?

It means “coffee with milk” in Spanish, representing that moment of reflection and zen in the morning when you wake up and have a cup of coffee or your preferred drink. We discuss topics like clinical trials and diversity. I love to give homework and action items.

What is the greatest difference WOCIP has made in your life?

I have had white women who were my sponsors, but I needed something specific for me. WOCIP gave me a tribe and a sounding board. These are my people. They are level-agnostic. I regained that sense of confidence that I was losing.

Monique Adams: Creating a difference through mentoring

Monique Adams, Vice President of WOCIP, is an earnest leader with a passion for developing talent in others.

Why are you passionate about motivating women of color?

Having experienced guidance myself, I want to share my experiences with others who look like me. We often do not have people who take us under their wings and give us the blueprint to navigate through the obstacles of being a minority in the pharmaceutical industry.

How has WOCIP influenced your connections?

I have expanded my network with leaders in the industry and with the talent pipeline interested in entering the industry. I have established relationships with industry leaders in Europe, Africa and Latin America and have mentoring relationships.

What is the greatest impact you’ve made through WOCIP?

The We Are PHARMA Initiative, which is focused on community education and increasing health equity and competency by bridging the gap between the pharma industry and the communities that WOCIP serves aligns with my purpose. Last year, the initiative reached over 500 Black and Brown community members and educated them on the safety of the COVID-19 vaccine.

Jamila Watkins: Finding your inner power

Jamila Watkins, Treasurer for WOCIP, wants other women of color to know their goals are attainable.

Why are you passionate about motivating women of color?

As a woman in transformation, I want other women to experience the same. Tell your story. You can’t be what you can’t see, as [WOCIP Founder and Board President] Charlotte says. Becoming a part of WOCIP helps you to see your own power, and WOCIP provides tools to help people with a growth mindset.

What is the greatest difference WOCIP has made in your life?

It reminded me of my power. Previously, I resigned myself to just grow where I was planted. Something in me wanted to fight for more. WOCIP spoke to that spark in me. Charlotte and the others would challenge me to push aside those fears. That made the difference.

What is the greatest impact you’ve made through WOCIP?

My first task was to host a Cupcake and Champagne event. I had 20 people show up. The call to action was for others in to host their own events to extend our network. We built this grassroots network of women, and that was the model we used for the first conference in 2016—from living rooms to a conference of 300 people which exceeded the capacity!

Tamarra Causley Robinson: Coaching women for empowerment

Tamarra Causley Robinson, Impacts many women of color with her approach.

How did WOCIP influence your agency?

I am inspired by Charlotte Jones-Burton to continually innovate through experimentation, a gift unto itself. Thanks to that spirit of growth and our partnership with WOCIP, I have now partnered with other organizations to offer similar opportunities to their members and employees.

Why is coaching important for WOCIP members?

One of the foundational principles of WOCIP is professional development. Coaching is a partnership between a trusted adviser and the member, allowing them to be all of who they are without judgment. We intentionally mirror WOCIP’s members with coaches who look and sound like them. Members who receive coaching achieve higher levels of success, are more self-aware, and confident, are perceived as competent leaders, and some are able to land roles and responsibilities far beyond their dreams.

Why are you passionate about motivating women of color?

I often think about striking a match and watching that match burn brightly, knowing that whatever that match touches will ignite (or spread) the fire. Once women of color know and understand more of who they are…watch out! Everything is about to change.

Meet these amazing leaders redefining the life sciences industry for other women of color.

As the ultimate servant leader, Marianne A. Fray sees herself as an advocate for marginalized and underrepresented groups.

Shamika William’s work with HBCUs is influenced by the legacy of her late mother.

Through travel, Patricia Cornet enhanced her global competence, created more value for patients, and challenged the status quo.

Dr. Sharon Monet Sifford Wilson is a powerful matchmaker who helps connect others with the right resources.

Annie B. Harris always looked up to her father.

Keniesha Watford-Woods says WOCIP helped her get in touch with her individuality.

Tope Osiyemi highlights how to honor yourself from her coaching experience.

WOCIP founder, fearless leader, and master connector Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton shares her greatest leadership moments.

Ambre Brown Morley shares 4 things that she learned about Sisterhood through WOCIP.

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