Eighth Annual Victoria Dabrowski Schmidt '42 Workplace & Professional Development Symposium

Saturday, September 23, 2023 | 8:30 am to 4:00 pm | Hosted In-Person at Douglass Student Center

The Eighth Annual Victoria Dabrowski Schmidt ’42 Workplace & Professional Development Symposium will feature dynamic speakers with an inspiring keynote, panel and workshop sessions at our in-person symposium with our theme, “Your Life’s Passion is Your Legacy.”  We’ll explore various aspects together, no matter where you may be on your professional and personal journey!

Victoria Dabrowski Schmidt ’42

Our symposium luncheon will feature the 2022 & 2023 AADC Society of Excellence Induction Ceremony. The symposium is open to all and is free for all alumnae and friends who are donors to the AADC.  Please address questions to AADC Director of Alumnae Relations Lorrie Delaney ’18 at ldelaney@douglassalumnae.org.

The AADC recognizes Victoria Dabrowski Schmidt ’42 for her generosity, vision, and spirit.

We are grateful to Victoria Dabrowski Schmidt ’42 for her generosity in establishing an endowment to provide and grow this highly successful symposium.

Symposium Schedule at a Glance

Symposium Keynote, Panel and Workshops

About Our Keynote, Panelists and Presenters

8:30 am

Registration, Breakfast & Networking

9:00 am


9:20 – 9:45 am

Keynote (General Session)
Margaret “Marty” Gillis ’75
Business Owner, community leader and advocate

9:45 – 10:45 am

Life, Legacy & the Legal Field (General Session)
Moderator: Lisa Dorio Ruch ’89
Featuring: Caprice R. Jenerson ’90, Ashley Sawyer ’10, Jennifer Bender ’93, Yesenia Perez ’12

10:45 - 11:00 am


11:00 – 11:45 pm

Morning Workshops (Select 1 of 3 Options)
Calming the Work-Life Ride: Being Aware of Outside Factors Shaping Your Life’s Passion
Your Personal Brand, Your Legacy
Unlock Your Life’s Purpose: Discover Your Path to an Intentional Life You Love

11:45 – 1:00 pm

Lunch & Society of Excellence Induction Ceremony

1:15 – 2:00 pm

Afternoon Workshops Session One (Select 1 of 3 Options)
The Hidden Job Market
Public Speaking: How to share your passion through effective communications
Utilize your natural talents to elevate you in the workplace and in life

2:00 – 2:45 pm

Afternoon Workshops Session Two (Select 1 of 3 Options)
BE YOU: Packaging Your Life’s Passion with Purpose
The AI Advantage: Unleashing the Potential of Artificial Intelligence in Personal Branding and Social Media
Being Aware of our Emotional Health

2:45 – 3:00 pm


3:00 – 4:00 pm

Power Hour Networking (Symposium concludes at 4:00 pm)

Professional Digital Headshots available for purchase, space is limited, see registration for details.

Symposium Keynote
Margaret “Marty” Gillis ’75

Business owner, community leader and advocate
Early in her career, Marty made the pivotal decision to leave a promising future in banking to successfully
complete the franchisee program at McDonald’s Hamburger University. Today she is the owner of 22
McDonald's restaurants and has impacted countless lives and communities through her philanthropy. An
AADC Society Excellence member, Marty has received numerous accolades throughout her career. She will
share remarks about her experiences as a business owner and her journey to success.

Symposium Panel
Life, Legacy & The Legal Field

Featuring Legal Experts: Caprice R. Jenerson '90, Ashley C. Sawyer ’10, Jennifer C. Bender ‘93, Yesenia Perez
‘12, and moderator Lisa Dorio Ruch ’89
Hear from our inspiring panelists about their experiences on the unique paths they took to create careers in
the legal field, how they monitor work-life balance to ensure longevity, manage their demanding careers,
and navigate diversity in the workplace.

Symposium Workshops
Calming the Work-Life Ride

Presented by Rochelle Lieberstein Stern '86

Workshop Description:

Your career and life path are not always controllable. When adversities present themselves, it is difficult to
go along for the ride. Changing your focus is challenging but rewarding. Being aware of outside factors shaping your life is
key to understanding the turmoil and settling into something different from your preconceived ideas.

Unlock Your Life's Purpose: Discover Your Path to An Intentional Life You Love

Discover Your Purpose, Live with Intention

Presented by Alison Maloney

Workshop Description:

Discover your life's purpose: Uncover your true calling and ignite a sense of intention in your personal and
professional life. Define your values, explore your "why" and align your actions with your goals. Address
challenges, create action plans, and leave with a clear vision and the tools to achieve a fulfilling life that you
love. Alison believes that everyone deserves to lead a fulfilling life, and through this workshop, she aims to
inspire and guide participants in their personal and professional journeys through sharing her expertise,
compassion, and unwavering dedication to empowering others to create positive change and purpose in
their lives.

The Hidden Job Market

The Skinny on job interview techniques and jobs you didn't know existed.
Presented by Sangeetha Subramanian '08

Workshop Description:

The hidden job market can be tricky. Let's unpack what behavioral interviewing is, how to master it, how to
gain connections to people who can help you get your dream job, and how to write a resume when we just
don't have the words to capture all that we do.

Public Speaking:
How to share your passion through effective communications

Use these Public Speaking tools and techniques to share your passion and leave your legacy in your
community and in your workplace.

Presented by Judy Meyenhofer Musa ’89 and Julia Brannan-Rauch

Workshop Description:

This career workshop covers the basics of public speaking, helping even the most introverted person find
their voice and develop skills to be more confident in sharing their passion and their legacy.

Utilize Your Natural Talents to Elevate You in the Workplace and in Life

Your purpose is in your genetic code and the things that excite you activate your path.

Presented by Kemma Cunningham

Workshop Description:

The goal of this workshop is to give you the tools to discover your natural gifts and utilize them to elevate
you in life and in the workplace. There are 5 key questions designed to facilitate thought around natural
talents. We will also expound upon how these natural talents can elevate life and career paths.

BE YOU: Packaging Your Life's Passion with Purpose

Package your experience and further your purpose

Presented by Ikecia Lenese Mapp '01

Workshop Description:

Have you ever wanted to stand out in a group of applicants, wanted to know how to captivate your
audience on how your life's journey fits into the next level of your life's purpose? Learn From a Master
Storyteller and Motivational Speaker how to shine in any setting by packaging your unique story and how
everything that you have experienced can be used to further your goals.

The AI Advantage: Unleashing the Potential of Artificial Intelligence in Personal
Branding and social media

Presented by Tamara Fleming

Workshop Description:

The AI Advantage workshop empowers business professionals with the knowledge, skills, and tools they
need to harness the power of AI, effectively elevate their personal branding, and maximize their impact on
social media platforms. By unlocking the potential of AI, attendees will be well-equipped to thrive in the
digital age and achieve their professional goals. Learn how to leverage benefits such as increased earning
potential, greater recognition and consistent flow of business and respect from your target audience.

Being Aware of our Emotional Health

Presented by Drusilla D. Cherry '63, MSSW

Workshop Description:

Caring for emotional health is a basis for a person's overall "wellness" and should not be underestimated.
Most people experience difficult times, and most people can feel and function better in more positive ways
in various aspects of our lives. Our presenter will explore how to take care of “you” and how improving
wellness in the workplace and finding balance impacts our emotional health to form a legacy of long-term
effects and improved lives.

About Our Keynote Speaker

Margaret “Marty” Gillis ‘75
is a successful business owner, community leader and advocate. Early in her career, she made the pivotal decision to leave a promising future in banking to successfully complete the franchisee program at McDonald’s Hamburger University. She also later earned a master's degree in business administration from Rutgers University. Today, Marty is the owner of 22 McDonald's restaurants and has impacted countless lives and communities through her work and philanthropy. At McDonald's, she was the first woman to serve as Chair of the African American Consumer Market Committee which directs all national marketing activities targeting African Americans. As chair for a decade, she successfully advocated for, re-energized and advanced McDonald's African American marketing programs.

These included McDonald's sponsorships and activations at the Essence Music Festival, HBCU Football Classics, Inspiration Celebration Gospel Tour, 365Black Awards, CIAA Tournament, Black Film Festival, United Negro College Fund, Thurgood Marshall College Fund, NAACP and others. Marty is active with the AADC Black Alumnae Network, was inducted into the AADC Society Excellence, and established the Gillis Prize through the AADC that benefits Douglass Residential College students. She serves as a member of the Rutgers Board of Trustees. Marty has received numerous accolades throughout her career, including being inducted into the AADC Society of Excellence, the Rutgers African-American Alumni Alliance, Inc., Hall of Fame, and receiving the New Jersey Women of Achievement Award. She supports numerous programs and events in her community.

About Our Panel Moderator

Lisa Dorio Ruch ’89, Esq., is a Staff Attorney with the State of New Jersey Public Employment Relations Commission and has voluntarily assisted the AADC on numerous occasions over the last 25 years with pro bono legal services. She has been engaged with the AADC for three decades and is the recipient of a 2003 AADC Alumnae Recognition Award. She currently serves as the Vice President of Administration on the AADC Board of Directors. Previously, she was an integral member of the AADC Nominating Committee and served as Chair. She returned to campus in June to celebrate her 30th milestone reunion at AADC Alumnae Reunion Weekend 2019 and the AADC 100th Anniversary Proud History Bright Future Gala. She also served as a member of the Executive Director Search Committee and as Class Secretary.

About Our Panelists

Jennifer C. Bender ‘93, Esq., is the Deputy Chief Legal Officer of Prudential Retirement Strategies and leads the team of lawyers supporting Prudential’s Institutional Retirement Strategies business, as well as reinsurance solutions for Prudential more generally. She currently serves as the Co-Chair of the Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Council of Prudential’s Law, Compliance, Business Ethics, and External Affairs (LCBE) Department. She is past Co-Chair of its Education & Awareness Sub-Committee. She joined Prudential in 2017 following two decades in private practice at an international law firm. Following earning a B.A. degree in History & English with highest honors from Douglass, she received a J.D. degree from Yale Law School. From 1996 to 1997, she served as law clerk to the Honorable Marie L. Garibaldi of the New Jersey State Supreme Court. She is a member of the Board of Trustees of Rutgers University. She is a Class Officer and previously served as Treasurer and member of the AADC Board of Directors and as a Trustee of the Douglass Fund, a trust established by the ADCC to support Douglass. She received a 2020 Alumnae Recognition Award.

Caprice R. Jenerson '90 is a veteran attorney with 20 years in senior management and leadership in various organizations, and more than a decade of experience as a thought leader in diversity, equity, and inclusion in the workplace. She is an effective consultant and resource counsel on federal and state criminal justice matters, including clemency, record mitigation and reentry for formerly incarcerated persons. She is currently the President & Attorney in Charge for the Office of the Appellate Defender. Caprice served as President of the AADC Black Alumnae Network (BAN) during the establishment of the Evelyn Sermons Field '49 Literary Society in August 2016. She helped plan the 2016 AADC BAN Sisters Conference, Telling Our Truth, Commemorating the 35th anniversary of BAN. In addition, Caprice continues to partner with the Bold Center at Douglass for Leadership, Career and Personal Development by providing externship opportunities for Douglass students. She was inducted into the East Orange Hall of Fame in 2022. Caprice is a graduate of Georgia State University College of Law. Caprice was appointed by Chief Judge DiFiore to the Attorney Emeritus Advisory Council and serves as co-chair of the Law School Subcommittee of the New York City Bar Pro Bono and Legal Services Committee. She was also nominated to the National Black Lawyers Top 100 for 2019.

Yesenia Perez ‘12
, J.D, LL.M, serves as Compliance Counsel at Innovative Benefit Planning, LLC., where she oversees compliance related requirements and navigates complex regulations. She also serves as Chief Compliance Officer for Innovative Investment Fiduciaries, L.L.C. She is responsible for instilling a culture of compliance and integrity to protect client plan sponsors and plan participants from potential compliance violations. Previously, she worked for the New Jersey Division of Law-Health and Human Services, the American Medical Association, a civil litigation firm, and a prominent health law firm in Chicago. Yesenia received her law degree and Master of Laws in Health Law from DePaul University, College of Law. Yesenia is licensed to practice law in New Jersey and New York. She served as a member of the AADC board of directors, and as a former co-chair of the AADC Young Alumnae Network, she co-chartered the Sisterhood Book Club, helped reinvigorate the New Jersey Regional Alumnae Connection Group and continued to stay a part of the AADC Alumnae Mentoring program. She received the 2018 AADC Young Alumna Mabel Award in 2018.

Ashley C. Sawyer ’10, Esq., is a Senior Staff Attorney on the Education Justice team at Advancement Project, a nextgeneration, racial justice law office. Ashley is an adjunct professor at Brooklyn Law School. She was previously the Senior Director of Campaigns at Girls for Gender Equity (GGE). Ashley is committed to improving the opportunities and well-being of young people, especially Black girls, and non-binary youth, through organizing, policy advocacy, and legislative advocacy. Ashley was previously a staff attorney at Youth Represent, where she led the representation of youth facing school suspension hearings and supported the organization’s School Justice Project. She also represented young people in misdemeanor criminal court, licensing hearings, housing court, and other civil legal issues. She led the reentry legal representation for girls and female identified youth on Rikers. Ashley’s life work is situated where education justice and the criminal legal system collide, she is committed to dismantling prisons and other forms of state violence, to build communities that invest in youth rather than harming them. Ashley was previously a Stoneleigh Emerging Leader Fellow/Attorney at the Education Law Center-PA, where she did special education litigation on behalf of incarcerated youth, and policy projects focused on dismantling school pushout. She earned a B.A. in Political Science from Douglass College and is an alumna of the Howard University School of Law.

About Our Workshop Session Presenters

Julia Brannan-Rauch R/Livingston'81 honed her sense of news and story-telling skills in journalism, then moved into communications, where she has worked with many internationally recognized products, and community-based causes, developing personalized strategies that start dialogs and build brands. Throughout her career, she is supported the work of community-based organizations and not-for-profits including American Neurological Association, American Transplant Congress, Innovations in Dermatology, Catholic Charities of the Archdiocese of New York, the Jewish Association Serving the Aging (JASA), NSITE, Partnership for Food Safety Education, and Road Scholar. She also has worked extensively with clients in healthcare, consumer health products, and in the food / nutrition industries. Julia is a program director and a teacher in an English as a Second Language program in Bayonne, NJ. She sits on the advisory board for the Associates of the Sisters of St. Joseph, assisting in their commitment to immigration reform and quality of life for immigrants.

Drusilla D. Cherry ‘63 earned a B.A. in Journalism from Douglass and a master’s degree in social work from Columbia University. Today she has a practice working with adults and adolescents, following a career in social work in the general area of mental health. The arc of her career includes being among some of the first volunteers to teach family planning when it became legal in Connecticut. She was the Yale New Haven Hospital's abortion social worker and, later, often worked with young parents of infants and children as a pediatric social worker. In 1990, she went to work for the Bridgeport (CT) Public Schools, realizing the importance of helping young children deal with changes and stresses. She continued with work with children and parents until last year. This past April, under an American Red Cross program, she travelled to Mississippi to counsel persons displaced by tornadoes.

Kemma Cunningham is an ACE certified Health Coach, Group Fitness Instructor and Personal Trainer. She has been working in the health and fitness industry for the last eight years. During this time, she has become a National Digital Coach, five-star elite performer and Personal Trainer at Life Time Athletic Resorts. She is also a Legacy lululemon ambassador.

Tamara Fleming is a creative powerhouse and co-founder of FEMWORKS, an award-winning marketing communications firm helping businesses to engage consumers in multicultural markets. As an accomplished, awardwinning photographer, she is passionate about creating images that positively represent African-American, Latinos, urban communities, and the LGBT community. Fleming is a highly valued supplier of stock images to the leader in stock images, Getty Images. Her work has appeared in magazines such as Essence, Black Enterprise, Yoga Journal, Pregnancy & Newborn, HYCIDE Magazine and Swerv. She serves the board chair for Essex County LGBT RAIN Foundation, is founding partner of the New Jersey LGBT Chamber of Commerce and ForwardEver Sustainable Business Alliance. Tamara also serves on the Communities of Color Business Initiative Steering Committee for the National Gay and Lesbian Chamber of Commerce, headquartered in Washington D.C. Fleming studied visual communications & photography at New Jersey City University and is a University of Phoenix graduate with a communications degree. She received a Greater Newark (NJ) Business Consortium Outstanding Small Business of the Year Award and a 2011 fellow of the esteemed Leadership Newark.

Lily Juhasz ‘22 is an Assistant Vice President of People Strategy in the Chief Information Office of Citi Bank. During her time at Douglass, she served as Douglass Governing Council President 2021/2022. She is currently serving as co chair of the AADC Young Alumnae Network (YAN), where she helps engage recent graduates.

Alison Maloney is an Advanced Certified Life Coach and ACEs Interface Presenter for the New Jersey Office of Resilience. She is pursuing a career in Parent Coaching. With a strong educational foundation from Rutgers University and experience as an Administrative Professional, Alison brings a wealth of knowledge and expertise to her practice. As a dedicated single, working mother, she understands the complexities and challenges of balancing personal and professional responsibilities. Her first-hand experience fuels her passion to assist others in transforming their lives and unlocking their fullest potential. Alison finds solace in exploring new destinations, quality time with her family and friends, expressing her creativity through writing, and serving as the Middlesex Area Associate Affiliate for I Support the Girls Central/South New Jersey.

Ikecia Lenese Mapp ‘01 has gone from a teen mom to CEO, to a nationally recognized bestselling author, Life-Skills Training Developer and Motivational Speaker. The New Jersey native is the author of “Upon my Heart, Upon my Soul,” co-author of the bestselling book “20 Beautiful Women Vol. 4,” and a former freelance writer for the HuffPost. Specializing in women’s wellness, life-skills, professional development, and social service programming, Ikecia has continuously touched lives for over 20 years through professional interactions and community involvement. She holds a B.A. from Douglass College, a Master of Human Services degree from Lincoln University, and is an Inroads Alum. Ikecia serves as a member of the AADC Board of Directors and previously was Co-Chair of the AADC 100th Anniversary and as the Chair of the Victoria Dabrowski Schmidt ‘42 Workplace & Professional Development Symposium. She is a member of the AADC Board of Directors. She is the recipient of a 2023 Alumnae Recognition Award.

Judy Meyenhofer Musa ‘89
is an award-winning public relations professional with more than 20 years of experience. She has leveraged the power of a well-told story that educates, informs, and persuades influencers and media across multiple platforms. Judy has connected brands with non-profits on societal issues ranging from women’s workplace literacy, girls in sports, relationship violence, family homelessness, sustainability, and the environment. Founder and co-owner of MoJJo Collaborative Communications with business partner Julia Brannan Rauch R/Livingston'81, the New Jersey agency works with small and medium businesses and nonprofits with public relations, media and presentation training, and social media strategy. She currently serves as Vice President of Marketing and Communication on the AADC Board of Directors. Judy also knits accessories and has shared her talents at the annual AADC Cabin Fever event. Connect with her https://www.linkedin.com/in/judy-musanj/.

Rochelle Lieberstein Stern '86 is on her third career as an expressive arts facilitator. She graduated with a Bachelor of Arts degree in journalism and worked in the publishing field. After being diagnosed with Type 1 diabetes, she found herself unprepared for the disease and researched it, and subsequently published a children's book about the disease. Diabetes spurred her to study medical librarianship at Rutgers University, graduating with a degree in 2007. She was a corporate medical librarian until 2015, when she began her venture into public librarianship and then into expressive arts.

Sangeetha Subramanian ‘08 is passionate about talent development, coaching, and inclusion in her career. With a strong client-service orientation, she carefully matches prospective candidates with openings. Previously, she worked in human resources and relationship-building roles at Nonprofit HR, Amazon, Big Brothers Big Sisters, New Jersey Network Public Television and Radio, and Junior Achievement. She created The Women’s Future Leadership Forum, now in its 14th year of production, with Junior Achievement of New Jersey chapter, which has been adopted by other chapters. She designed “pop-up” diversity activities for 2,000 employees at Amazon, focusing on underserved employee populations. Sangeetha earned a Bachelor of Arts in Sociology, obtained an AIRS Diversity Recruiter Certification, and is pursuing a Masters in Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion at the University of Maryland. She volunteers with NAMIC Capital Area (National Association for Multi-ethnicity in Communications), of which she is Immediate Past President and Diversity Chair.