MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Jan. 31, 2019) – The membership of Professional Dimensions recently approved the elevation of the organization’s staff leadership position from Director of Operations to Chief Executive Officer, and named Johannah Karstedt St. John as its first CEO.
Karstedt St. John has served as the organization’s Director of Operations since 2017, and has played a key role in professionalizing the office, growing and strengthening its membership, and providing a consistent leadership presence. Emily Phillips, President of the Board of Professional Dimensions stated “this move is not only a recognition of Johannah’s contributions, but an important step in setting a foundation from which we can grow and realize our potential as an organization of inclusive women leaders, using our power to help each other and advance our community.”
Professional Dimensions is celebrating its 40th year, and is looking to position itself as being vibrant, vital and visible for the next 40 years. “Elevating this role to a CEO is an important signal to the community that Professional Dimensions is strengthening its presence as a thought leader in the business and philanthropic community,” says Phillips. The organization is looking to raise awareness and advance efforts in the area of inclusion and diversity, in particular. Professional Dimensions recently elected its most diverse Board of Directors in its 40-year history and hosted a summit on inclusive leadership on January 23rd, raising awareness and educating the community on inclusive work cultures in which diversity can thrive.
The CEO position creates more depth and continuity in the partnership between the Board of Directors and the office. Karstedt St. John commented that “Board terms are two years and our presidency term is one year. As we’re transitioning from leader to leader, achieving our strategic objectives requires the consistent presence of an executive level staff person.” In addition, “with a growing membership body that is connected 24/7 and an ambitious vision for the future, we could no longer rely only on a volunteer board and an administrative staff role.”
About Professional Dimensions
Founded in 1978 and celebrating its 40th anniversary, Professional Dimensions is a membership organization of more than 400 inclusive women leaders who use their collective power to help each other and advance the community. Guided by the four tenets of Leadership, Diversity, Community and Networking, Professional Dimensions cultivates relationships between women of all backgrounds, ages, industries and experience levels. More information can be found at www.professionaldimensions.org.
MILWAUKEE, Wis. (Jan. 24, 2019) – Professional Dimensions hosted its first-ever Ideation Summit at the Pfister Hotel on January 23, 2019. The half-day event brought together more than 300 leaders in our community to focus on the topic of inclusive leadership in an already diverse world.
The CEO of Professional Dimensions, Johannah Karstedt St. John, kicked off the event by sharing the organizations’ own journey, the progress made to-date, and the desire to be an organization that models inclusive leadership. She noted “In June last year, we elected a Board of Directors that encompassed women from three generations, that included both seasoned and new members from a multitude of companies and industries. And, 33% of our board seats are currently held by women of color.”
The program keynote speaker was Arwa Mahdawi, a London-born, New York-based writer, brand strategist and diversity consultant. In her presentation she challenged the audience to re-frame how they think about diversity and inclusion efforts in order to evolve from simply creating a diverse workforce to truly embracing a culture change that allows for diversity to thrive.
Following the keynote address, corporate partners shared their thought leadership in a variety of breakout sessions, representing a range of topics designed to encourage deeper conversations. Headlining sponsor Baird led a discussion entitled Aha! Moments: How New Perspectives Lead to Action. Keynote sponsor Manpower Group led Inclusion as a Measurable Business Imperative. Other breakout sessions included AdvocateAuroraHealth’s Multi-Dimensional Challenges (Intersectionality), Brewers Community Foundation Inc.’s A Day in the Life, Goodwill’s Stop Doing Diversity, Start Living It, and Northwestern Mutual’s Middle Management: Where Diversity Goes to Die.
Professional Dimensions chose this year’s theme as one near and dear to the organization. Emily Phillips, President of the Board of Professional Dimensions shared that “just over a decade ago, we began having deep conversations as an organization about racial inequity and institutionalized practices that prevent the advancement of all. This process was sometimes uncomfortable and necessary to advance our understanding of our often sluggish progress as a country and as a city.” The Ideation Summit was created as a way to spark the conversation with thought leaders in Milwaukee. Phillips stated that “we saw an opportunity this year to use our collective power to elevate a topic of importance in our community,” and added that this annual summit provides an ongoing platform for a variety of topics.
By Sari Lesk – Reporter, Milwaukee Business Journal
Jeanette Mitchell and May yer Thao were named the 2019 Sacagawea Award recipients by women’s organization Professional Dimensions.
Mitchell is the chief creative officer of Leadership by Dr. Jeanette, and Thao is executive director of the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce. Both are “pioneering leaders” who were chosen based on their career accomplishments, commitment to the community and support for women’s advancement, according to a news release.
Johannah Karstedt St. John, the chief executive officer of Professional Dimensions, praised the award recipients, saying they've “blazed trails” for women to follow.
“Shining a light on women leaders who have contributed in this way is core to who we are as an organization, and we are proud to shine that light on Dr. Mitchell and Ms. Thao this year,” she said.
The awards were created in 1982 to recognize women who exhibit the spirt of Sacagawea, best known for joining Louis and Clark on their expedition westward from the Mississippi to the Pacific Coast. The awards will be presented during a March 7 dinner at The Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee. Proceeds from the annual fundraiser benefit local organizations that work to advance self-sufficiency for women and girls.
Mitchell works through her consulting business in partnerships that direct, design and manage leadership development programs throughout the region. Projects include the Neighborhood Leadership Institute, the African American Leadership Alliance-Milwaukee and the African American Leadership program, the release says.
Before starting her business, Mitchell was the program director at Cardinal Stritch University’s Leadership Center. Mitchell also previously served as president of the Milwaukee School Board.
Thao was recruited to the Hmong Wisconsin Chamber of Commerce in 2014 to work in grants administration. After a year, she was named its executive director. She deployed the most business loans in the organization’s history during her tenure, according to the release.
Professional Dimensions credited Thao for growing the chamber’s profile and community outreach. She also developed relationships with organizations such as the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. and the Wisconsin Women’s Business Initiative Corp.
Artist Ian Baker Johnson will create three pieces for the awards. One will be created for each winner; the third will reside at the Sacagawea collection at Alverno College.
By Melanie Lawder – Milwaukee Business Journal
Milwaukee women's leadership group Professional Dimensions on Wednesday elected its board of directors for the 2018-'19 year, ushering in the most racially diverse board in the organization’s history.
Overall, 33 percent of the group's board positions will be held by women of color, according to a news release. Founded in 1978, Professional Dimensions' membership comprises 350 women throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
“Diversity has always been one of our core tenets," said newly elected president Emily Phillips in a statement. "We believe it is our duty to use our power, as a leading women’s organization, to further advance our community by shining a light on women of color and ensuring our leadership is representative."
From the restaurant industry to health care and utilities, Professional Dimensions' directors also hail from 12 different industries. The following is the full list of Professional Dimensions' board of directors for the 2018-19 year:
President: Emily Phillips, Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.
Immediate past president: Karen Vernal, Vernal Management Consultants, LLC
President-elect: Judith Mouton, Johnson Controls
Secretary: Christine Baranoucky, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Treasurer: Natasha King, Next Door Foundation
Karen Hunt, P.A.V.E.
Shaneé Jenkins, YMCA Metro Milwaukee
Renee Kirnberger, Pathfinders
Melinda Krueger, Salesforce
Rebeca Lopez, Godfrey & Kahn SC
Laura Lutter Cole, Visit Milwaukee
Andréa Michel, Hoffman York
Jennifer Allen, MGIC
Katie Podmokly, Baird
Danielle Bly, We Energies
Julie Raye, Bartolotta Restaurants
Brenda Campbell, SecureFutures
Joyce Rubenstein, Capstone National Partners
Tricia Geraghty, Children’s Hospital of Wisconsin
Janet Slater, Greenleaf Partners
Kate Venne, Brady Corp.
Erica Gumieny, Advocate Aurora Health Care
Michelle Hinton, Uncom Milwaukee
Jennifer Walther, Mawicke & Goisman
Generous contributions from individual members and corporate partners empower Professional Dimensions to double grant commitment to local non-profit.
MILWAUKEE — April 5, 2018 —Milwaukee-based Professional Dimensions, a network of more than 350 inclusive women leaders who use their collective power to help each other and advance the community, announced a $50,000 donation to Pathfinders’ New Paths program at the start of Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
President and CEO of Vernal Management Consultants, Karen Vernal, who serves as Professional Dimensions’ President delivered the donation this afternoon stating, “In the month that has been dedicated to sexual assault awareness, we are proud to be able to give this level of support to this incredible initiative through Pathfinders. Our members are committed to raising our local awareness of youth sex trafficking and to being part of the solution.”
Pathfinders’ is a local non-profit organization serving low-income youth facing homelessness, sex trafficking, sexual abuse, mental health issues and crisis. In 2017, Pathfinders launched New Paths, its program to support youth who have been victims of sexual exploitation and trafficking.
The program was selected in June 2017, as the beneficiary of Professional Dimensions’ Charitable Fund, to receive a minimum of $25,000 annually over a two-year partnership. Donations from individual members and corporate sponsors enabled Professional Dimensions to double the annual commitment in the first year of the partnership.
"We are extremely grateful for all of the financial, in-kind and volunteer resources that Professional Dimensions and its members have brought to Pathfinders,” said Tim Baack, Pathfinders’ President and CEO. “In addition to raising awareness about the sexual exploitation and trafficking of Milwaukee's youth, a critical issue impacting our city, they are helping to raise the profile of the wide-range of innovative services Pathfinders offers to young people 25 and under."
The two-year partnership with Pathfinders continues through June 2019. To date, Professional Dimensions has donated more than $1.6 million to local projects and initiatives that impact the economic self-sufficiency of women and girls.
Milwaukee area trailblazers Dr. Eve Hall and Ms. Paula Penebaker honored for their professional achievements and community contributions
MILWAUKEE, Mar. 8, 2018- Nearly 600 people marked International Women’s Day Thursday night by celebrating two trailblazing women at the Pfister Hotel in downtown Milwaukee.
Professional Dimensions, a membership organization of inclusive women leaders who use their power to help each other and advance the community, presented the 2018 Sacagawea Awards to Dr. Eve Hall, President and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League and Paula Penebaker, President and CEO of YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin. Hall and Penebaker were selected for their career accomplishments, commitment to community and support of the advancement of women.
“Paula and Eve reflect the courage, tenacity and grit of Sacagawea, “ said Karen Vernal, President of Professional Dimensions and President and CEO of Vernal Management Consultants. “Like Sacagawea, they have each been guides for hundreds of people who have been in the rough, unchartered waters of life. We celebrate each of them and express our deep gratitude for all they have done for the people of Milwaukee and beyond.”
In addition to honoring Milwaukee’s trailblazing women, proceeds from the 2018 Sacagawea Awards Dinner will increase the impact that Professional Dimensions’ Charitable Fund will have on their 2017-2019 project with Pathfinders’ New Paths Program.
Dr. Hall and Ms. Penebaker were presented with custom art pieces created by artist Kristin Thielking, Professor of Sculpture and Glass at the University of Wisconsin, Stevens Point. Thielking created three unique pieces of art for the event, one for each winner, and one that will reside in the Professional Dimensions Sacagawea collection at Alverno College.
Milwaukee area trailblazers to be acknowledged for their professional achievements and community contributions.
MILWAUKEE, Dec. 14- Professional Dimensions, a professional women’s organization serving the Greater Milwaukee area since 1978, has announced the selection of its 2018 Sacagawea Award winners as well as the 2018 Sacagawea artist, whose work will honor the award recipients.
The 2018 Sacagawea Award recipients are Dr. Eve Hall, President and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League and Paula Penebaker, President and CEO of YWCA of Southeastern Wisconsin. Both are trailblazing women chosen for their career accomplishments, commitment to community and support of the advancement of women.
Dr. Eve Hall, a native of Milwaukee, previously served as President and CEO of the African American Chamber of Commerce of Milwaukee. She has also served as Chief Innovation Officer for the Thurgood Marshall College Fund and has held leadership roles in public affairs, Milwaukee Public Schools and Governor Tommy Thompson’s office.
Hall is the co-founder of the African American Women’s Project Fund, which was created and designed to provide funding to organizations supporting the well-being of women and girls. Additional affiliations include Rotary Club of Milwaukee, Delta Sigma Theta Sorority, Inc. and TEMPO Milwaukee. Passionate about education, Hall earned a B.S. degree in educational psychology from Florida A&M University, a M.S. in administrative leadership from the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, and a doctorate in educational leadership from Cardinal Stritch University.
Penebaker began her tenure at the YWCA as the Chief Human Resources and Facilities Officer in 1999. Previously, Penebaker worked at First Wisconsin Bank, and also spent 13 years at Procter & Gamble in Cincinnati, Ohio. She is a member, and past board director, of Professional Dimensions and was instrumental in the creation of the organization’s signature race and racism programming. Penebaker serves on the board of directors of the Rotary Club of Milwaukee, and is a member of the Milwaukee Alumnae Chapter of Delta Sigma Theta, Inc. and Milwaukee Chapter of The Links Incorporated. She also serves on the board of directors of Milwaukee World Festival, Inc. and is a Trustee for the Public Policy Forum and the Milwaukee County Federated Library System. Penebaker earned a B.S. degree from Edgecliff College, which has since merged with Xavier University. She has received awards from the Milwaukee Business Journal, Community Brainstorming Conference, North Central Service Club, the Medical College of Wisconsin, BizTimes and the Greater Milwaukee Foundation.
To honor these exceptional women, Kristin Thielking, the 2018 selected Sacagawea Award artist, will create three unique pieces of art: one piece will be crafted for each winner, and one that will reside in the permanent Sacagawea collection at Alverno College. Thielking is a Professor of Sculpture and Glass at the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point and has also taught at the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design, University of Wisconsin-Madison and Penland School of Crafts. After growing up in Long Island, NY, Thielking went on to receive a BA in Fine Art and Comparative Literature from Brown University and an MFA in Sculpture from University of Wisconsin-Madison. Thielking works in a wide range of materials, from paper to glass, bronze and steel. She has a special interest in working with language as a material and creating work that inspires dialogue, and the state of the environment.
About the Sacagawea Awards
Professional Dimensions’ Sacagawea award was created in 1982 to recognize two trailblazing women who exhibit the spirit of Sacagawea. The award is named for the Native American woman who helped guide Lewis and Clark on their legendary 1804-1806 search for the Northwest Passage to the Pacific Ocean. This prestigious honor acknowledges exceptional leadership by “Women Who Inspire,” and embraced opportunities to hone their skills and strive toward excellence by conquering daily challenges through career achievements. The Sacagawea Awards Dinner will be Thursday, March 8, 2018 at the Pfister Hotel in Milwaukee. For tickets to the event please contact Professional Dimensions at (414) 374-3570 or www.professionaldimensions.org
About Professional Dimensions
Professional Dimensions (PD) is a network of diverse Milwaukee area professional women that connects, engages and inspires its members to reach their career and personal goals. Driven by its four tenets of leadership, community, diversity and networking, PD creates opportunities for women to develop their respective work disciplines and networks, expand their personal reach for the good of the community and create an inclusive space for members to flourish. Since its formation in 1978, Professional Dimensions has grown to more than 350 members throughout southeastern Wisconsin.
Mark Kass, Milwaukee Business Journal, Published October 2, 2017
Four high-powered women came together Sept. 28 to talk about their prominent roles in putting together the deal and building the new $524 million Milwaukee Bucks arena in downtown Milwaukee. Check out the attached slideshow put together by Milwaukee Business Journal freelance photographer Kenny Yoo to see photos from the popular event.
The event was put on by Milwaukee Women inc, Tempo Milwaukee and Professional Dimensions. The panel consisted of Danielle Bergner, managing partner at Michael Best & Friedrich LLP; Alicia Dupies, vice president of corporate social responsibility at the Milwaukee Bucks; Angie Helfert, project manager at Mortenson Construction; and Catherine Jacobson, president and CEO of Froedtert Health.
Melinda Davenport, morning anchor at WISN-TV (Channel 12), was the moderator for the panel.
The event featured a discussion about how each of the women developed innovative partnerships to earn support for the new arena and what the new Bucks campus being developed in downtown Milwaukee means for women professionals in southeastern Wisconsin.
Bergner said she is hopeful the success of the project will lead to future major developments in Milwaukee.
"I'm very proud of what we were able to accomplish on this project," said Bergner, who worked on the many leases and other legal documents necessary for the project to move forward. "I hope people appreciate what it took to get this done. It showed that if government and others work together, we can do a lot in this community."
Jacobson said she was very proud of the innovation that was included in the team's $30 million, state-of-the-art practice facility, which recently opened near the new arena site. Froedtert agreed to sponsor the new facility, along with building an adjoining medical clinic.
The locker room door even includes a retina scan for players to enter.
"There is nothing like this in the NBA," she said. "The whole point is to ensure maximum athletic performance of the players."
Bergner said the hope is that the new arena will prompt development projects in city of Milwaukee neighborhoods near downtown.
"The real test is what we see in the Bronzeville in five years," she said.
Milwaukee-area executives in attendance included Phyllis King of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee, Tami Garrison of MillerCoors, Sandy Wysocki of United Performing Arts Fund, Angela Adams from Goodwill Industries of Southeastern Wisconsin, Kelly Skindzelewski of GE Healthcare and Laura Gough of Robert W. Baird & Co. Inc.
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Susan Chira , New York Times Published July 21,, 2017
A year ago, dressed in suffragette white and addressing a cheering, weeping convention, Hillary Clinton stood for possibility. Now she is a reminder of the limits women continue to confront — in politics and beyond.
More than 40 years after women began pouring into the workplace, only a handful have made it all the way to the top of corporate America. The percentage of chief executives of Fortune 500 companies who are women just passed 6 percent, creeping up (and occasionally dropping back) at a glacial pace.
Why don’t more women get that No. 1 job?
Consider the experiences of the people who know best: Women who were in the running to become No. 1, but didn’t quite make it. The women who had to stop at No. 2.
What their stories show is that in business, as in politics, women who aspire to power evoke far more resistance, both overt and subtle, than they expected would be the case by now.
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Paul Gores , Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Published 4:06 p.m. CT June 18, 2017
As local business leaders who have become friends, Kim Sponem and Marsha Lindsay talk about their experiences. One day at lunch, the two Madison women realized they kept hearing the same refrain from male peers.
“For so many years, we’ve heard well-intentioned folks say, ‘Well, I’d like to have more women on my board, but I just can’t find any,’” said Lindsay, who is founder and chair of the marketing firm Lindsay, Stone & Briggs.
That excuse, say Sponem and Lindsay, can – and should – go away. But it likely will take some innovation by existing members of corporate boards for the under-representation of women to fade at a faster pace, said the two chief executives.
“There’s this misunderstanding that’s lingered from 20 or 30 years ago that it was difficult to find qualified women,” said Lindsay, who joined with Sponem in researching the issue and conducting interviews with leaders in a variety of industries in the hope of offering ideas to help.
That most corporate boards lack gender diversity isn’t in question. Females account for about 16% of board members nationally, according to the U.S. Government Accountability Office. That’s up from 8% in 1997, but still a very slow evolution, Lindsay and Sponem say.
The GAO concluded that if females joined boards as often as men beginning in 2015, it would take more than four decades for women to reach parity with men.
“That is laughable,” Lindsay said.
Added Sponem, who is CEO of Summit Credit Union, Wisconsin’s second-biggest credit union: “Yeah, we can’t wait that long.”
More-recent data from the executive compensation research firm Equilar showed that as of March this year, 15.9% of Russell 3000 board seats were occupied by women. That was up from 15.1% in all of 2016.
While women accounted for nearly one-quarter of new directorships in the quarter, the Equilar data showed about 22.5% of boards in the Russell 3000 – an index including the 3,000 largest companies traded in the U.S. – had no women at all.
The situation in Wisconsin is roughly the same as nationally. In a report last fall, the advocacy group Milwaukee Women inc found that women constituted 16.9% of the members of the state’s top public company boards. That was an increase from 15.8% in 2015 and 12.3% a decade earlier.
Milwaukee Women inc also reported that the percentage of females on the boards of 47 of Wisconsin’s 50 largest private companies was 15.7% last year. That was unchanged from 2015. Forty-five percent of private companies in Wisconsin had no women in the boardroom.
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