Skip to content
Charlotte-Jones 2

"It’s about being in control of your career, Being the CEO of You."

– Charlotte Jones Burton

The Fearless Leader

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

Long before she gave birth to the idea of WOCIP and was championing women of color, WOCIP founder Dr. Charlotte Jones-Burton knew she wanted to inspire and manifest change.

The late 1970s saw a young Charlotte organizing and ordering her baby dolls around. Amid what appeared to be a child playing, leadership was taking shape. The experience was only one of many that formed Charlotte’s leadership style. She has an innate ability to recognize a cause, unite people around it, and inspire them to achieve their best selves through that cause. It’s a theme that has persisted throughout her life. Her passions, career, and motherhood all reflect it.

As a physician-scientist, she works to improve the lives of chronically ill patients and communities by combining her leadership skills in research and people development. She has witnessed, experienced, and researched health inequities in those spaces and throughout her life. Over a decade ago, she entered the pharmaceutical industry feeling alone, lost, and marginalized. To prevent others from experiencing what she did, she founded WOCIP.

For Charlotte, there was no straight path to leadership. In her life, it has constantly changed and took on different forms. Here are the pivotal moments that helped mold her into the fearless leader she is today.

Charlotte Jones Burton Img 1

1975-1978 A leader at play

In childhood, Charlotte was an only child who always showed an inherent desire to lead others. Initially, she ruled over her baby dolls. “I was bossing my baby dolls. I would set up school for them, organize them, pop them with a comb and tell them to sit still,” she says. “My grandmother, my mother and aunts would frequently say as they witnessed this childhood play, ‘we knew she was going to do something great one day.”

Early 1990s Developing a leadership persona

As yearbook editor, Charlotte noticed a lack of representation of black students in the school’s print media.” I was a leader within the school, and I wasn’t happy with the response that the headmaster had given,” she recalled. She rallied students to approach the chair of the board of directors. “I just think about how bold it was to not be satisfied with what the headmaster’s response and lead students to approach the board leadership about it. When I think about what my leadership has been about, it’s always been about challenging the status quo and not accepting “no” as an answer. And that’s what we did. I can’t recall the answer we got. But it was the emergence of my leadership persona.” Her method is similar today: “I try to understand the group sentiment and champion that sentiment,” she explains.

1994 Finding a partner in leadership

While attending Washington University in St. Louis, Mo., she was a member of the black student association along with her now husband, Delvin, who was the president of the organization. They advocated to include more diversity in the admission brochure. “It was the beginning of our partnership journey” she says. “Together, we are a force, and we are the wind beneath each other’s wings. He’s always involved and by my side.”

Charlotte Jones Burton Img 2

Late 1990s Motherhood

Becoming a mother was one of Charlotte’s greatest life challenges. As a medical student, Charlotte and Delvin conceived their first child, Dakota. Sadly, Charlotte had an incompetent cervix and was unable to carry their first baby to term. The lost of Dakota was heartbreaking for the Burtons but they faced this challenge together, allowing each other space to grieve and eventually conceived again.

Their pregnancy with their son, Corinthian, was also a challenge and required Charlotte to be on strict bedrest. Together, and with the help of family and friends to care for Charlotte while Delvin worked as a teacher, their son Corinthian was born at 25 weeks. “It was a big challenge for me to become a mother, and I lost my first baby.

It was a setback,” Charlotte shares. “I could have looked at it as if I was a failure. But I faced the pain of the loss, reflected on the meaning, grieved the loss and with my “teammate” Delvin, defined a path forward”. This is how I lead whether it’s personal or professional, and that happened to be a personal moment.”

2004-2005 Leading others to give back

Charlotte worked with an alumnus from the University of Maryland to create an endowment for their well-respected dean who was retiring. “It was an endowment in his name, and creating an endowment is no easy feat,” Charlotte says. “You have to amass so much money, and the gains from the fund can be granted as scholarships to Black students who want to attend our medical school.” Since its inception, they have hosted a gala every year to help raise funds for the endowment.”Now after years of fundraising, the fund is in a place where people are benefiting from it, which is excellent. That was our gift to him,” she says.

2007 Navigating corporate America

When Charlotte entered corporate America, she observed and experienced the isolation and lack of support Black women face. There was no playbook or even network of others who looked like her to help her understand how to succeed in the large pharmaceutical company where she had landed a “dream job.” She recalls being confused by the corporate politics and language that people used, “I would hear from my colleagues that I needed to be more visible. I didn’t understand that. I came to work every day. Wasn’t this being visible?” Charlotte says. “Now, I understand what it means and I want others who look like me to not experience the confusion that I experienced. It’s so easy to explain and I now know that visibility refers to being seen by senior leaders who are responsible for assigning projects and promotions.”

2011-2014 Nurturing her leadership

Over the years, Charlotte has had several sponsors, and she remembers her first one, a woman who taught her how to be authentic and navigate corporate politics. She shared with Charlotte how to gain support for participating in a leadership development program and receiving executive coaching. Through this coaching, Charlotte examined her limiting beliefs, how they impacted her work, and how to find a corporate environment where she would thrive. This work was transformational and helped Charlotte develop the courage and confidence to speak up in meetings and show up as a leader.

2015 The birth of WOCIP

Charlotte was inspired by a group of Black and Latina women she invited to her home for a wine and cheese party. They discussed a gap that they were all feeling, which was support to help them excel in their careers. They shared feelings of isolation, frustration, and confusion on how to climb the corporate ladder. After the event, Charlotte was determined to find a solution. She felt a spark to start WOCIP and bring women of color together in a supportive environment with the resources, tools and programming to unlock their potential. WOCIP was born.

2016-2018 Lifting others up

Charlotte increased her visibility and assumed different roles with increasing responsibilities. She coached others not to settle for the status quo and to make bold career moves. Likewise, she continued to do the same. “Every move I make speaks to the audience I’m trying to reach. When I made that move, it helped them realize they could do the same.” That’s her way of “lifting others as I rise,” she explains. “A rising tide lifts all boats.”

2019 Next step in leadership

Charlotte left a company that she loved when she was at the height of her career there. She was doing multiple jobs and believed she was ready to be promoted to vice president role, but she was told “no.” As CEO of her career, Charlotte left the company to assume a Vice President/ Head of Clinical Development role.

2021 Being honored as a leader

  • To commemorate its 5th Annual Conference, WOCIP held its inaugural gala and Charlotte was honored with the Global Icon Award. “I was so surprised. My husband and son spoke and presented it to me.” She laughs, recalling one of her husband’s comments: “Now, I know what Jay-Z feels like waking up to an icon.”
  • Charlotte makes PharmaVoice’s 2021’s “Top 100 Inspiring Leaders in Pharma” list, which spotlights industry leaders throughout the industry.

2022 Levels up leadership

  • Charlotte becomes senior vice president of a biotech research company.
  • She continues to grow and increase the magnitude of WOCIP, expanding its reach, programming and network.

“It’s been really powerful to see the impact WOCIP has had on people’s lives. It’s hard to measure how many lives we’ve touched. And that’s the beauty of it. We could start counting, but that only scratches the surface,” Charlotte says. “I know people in my inner circle that I’ve touched, but then they touch people, and it just permeates.”

Building Connections

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.

Jacqueline “Jackie” Gerena

WOCIP’s Director of Committees

Monique Adams

Vice President of WOCIP

Jamila Watkins

Treasurer for WOCIP

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.

WOCIP Platinum Sponsors

Thank you to our empowerment partners.

We read and respond to every inquiry. We want to hear from you!