Synchrony Global Diversity Symposium
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Awards Winners

Group Awards

Award: Create New Pathways

Winners: Paula Clayton, Mike DeMarco, Patti Lamb

Veterans Network+ (VN+)

The VN+ strives to strengthen our relationship with other diversity networks. It tries to accomplish this by designating leaders from other networks as allies or ambassadors to coordinate efforts between networks. This award is recognizing three of those leaders and their drive to ensure the maximum of impact of every initiative.

Paula Clayton came to the VN+ from the WN+ not just participate and advise, but she came ready to do some heavy lifting. She made it her focus to improve our site leader engagement through better meeting routines, deliberate mentorship and by setting clear expectations for site leaders.

Mike DeMarco has been key player in his role in bringing together the VN+ with the PDN+. Many veterans suffer from both physical and mental disabilities that make partnering with the PDN+ a logical undertaking. In this capacity Mike has been influential on a number of initiatives but most notably in our efforts to talk about and educate our members on PTSD. His leadership was demonstrated on Katie Strong Run across America and the subsequent educational session discussing PTSD. The panel was a huge success and helped propel Katie's quest to pass legislation to fund service animal for veterans - now a law in California.

Patti Lamb has been working for several years as an ally between LGBT+ and VN+. In this capacity she has set the standard for other allies to follow. She has provided a high level of engagement and thought leadership between our two networks on a number of initiatives including member identification, community initiatives and communication.

Award: Lead the Change

Winners: Josh Franco

Veterans Network+ (VN+)

The Veterans Network+ would like to recognize Josh Franco.

As a member of the communications team and a the VN+ site leader in Phoenix, Josh is an engaged Veteran and his energy is felt in everything he does and by everyone he touches. When the quarterly newsletter needed updating, Josh took on the task with his typical zeal. Rather than just reformatting it, he reached out globally and built a collaborative team that looked at ways to consolidate communications, increase and improve content and, more importantly, he saw it as one way to help our members identify and acquire critical skills that will be used for future leadership positions.

Not satisfied, he reached outside of the network to solicit additional feedback and for ways to improve the publication. The Global Patriot has turned into a forum for writers from all networks and across all levels and functions of the business to collaborate, develop meaningful content and acquire critical skills like creative writing, interviewing and photo/video editing that can be used for networking and future leadership opportunities.

The Global Patriot, complete with video and written content, now highlights our networks activities, our members and our partnerships in an engaging format that looks professional and it is inviting and easy to read. It is a huge success and now Josh and his team are partnering with other networks to train and conduct seminars on the thought, technology and process behind publishing it.

Please join me as we congratulate Joshua Franco, the newest member of the VN+ Global Communications Leadership Team.

Award: Lead the Change

Winners: Sarah Flores-Soler, Jono Keedy

Hispanic Network+ (HN+)

Sara and Jono were nominated by the HN+ leadership team as Amiga and Amigo of the Year because of their exemplary commitment to HN+.
They are both driven, passionate, and caring.

Sara serves on the Operations pillar and ensures that all key initiatives are top of mind and pacing toward completion with excellence. Sara works tirelessly to ensure that every detail is taken care of She spends extra time to give a personal touch and thinks about the long term impact of her every decision.

Jono serves on the Develop Pillar and is the leader for HN+ Fuego Fridays and Synchrony Speaks series. His passion for the Network started when he first joined SYF as a BLP and has been unwavering ever since. He is bold and takes action without hesitation. He handles small and large initiatives with a high degree of passion and excellence.

Award: Take Action

Winners: Carrie Nygard, Lauren Dick, Linzey Prue

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender+ Network (LGBT+)

As leaders in our Education and Professional Development pillars of the LGBT+ network, in partnership with Louis Kemp, we honor Carrie Nygard, Lauren Dick, and Linzey Prue for the best year ever for the network’s efforts to provide our members with what they’ve been asking for – opportunities. These leaders have collaborated between their silos in Internal Engagement to support each other in the development and implementation of important cultural awareness experiences, critical conversations with senior leaders on topics not familiar, but oh so important, to many of our members, and even general skills-based programs. Their work in this space, in response to our company’s GPTW results and the opportunities we’ve heard from our engagement with the hubs, has generated the largest turnouts in the history of our network, and every program gets better, and attendance keeps growing every time. Carrie, Linzey, and Lauren have all worked for years now to tune our member offering and we couldn’t be happier with the fruits of their hard work, passion for development, and attentiveness to the voice of the member!

Award: APEN+ Team Award – The Manilla and Cebu Sites

Winners: Jovi Estaris, Chiqui Basa

Asian Professional Engagement Network+ (APEN+)

The award is presented to Jovi Estaris from the Manilla site and Chiqui Basa from the Cebu site. The Philippines site have done a tremendous job growing the APEN+ membership. The combine membership for the two sites is ~600 even though the Cebu site just started in September 2017. In April 2019 alone, the Philippines added 230 new members.

Our APEN+ Philippines Hub is a tireless advocate to make a difference in their local communities. They have done a lot of volunteer activities and community outreach efforts throughout the year with lots of passion.

They recently partner with “Gawad Kalinga”, meaning to “give care” which is a Philippines-based movement dedicated to eradicate poverty and restore human dignity.

Another area where the hubs have worked with the community is the area of helping educate children. The Hubs partnered with at the SYF Volunteers to work with Food for Hungry Minds. Food for Hungry Minds is a Non Government Organization which provides education by creating schools for disadvantaged children in the poorest areas. APEN+ in partnership with SYF Volunteer to distribute school supply kits to students of Food for Hungry Minds. A total of 3940 school kits were collected from Manila and Cebu teams

Individual Awards

Award: Create New Pathways

Winner: Bryan Vasquez

Hispanic Network+ (HN+)

Bryan serves on the Attract Pillar and has been instrumental in developing the HN+ partnership with ALPFA. We have seen year over year growth in the number of Hispanic talent in our Internships and BLP programs directly because of Bryan’s commitment to recruiting and attracting high potential talent. Bryan’s energy is unstoppable. We are a stronger Network today because of his commitment to attracting and developing talent all while making bold career moves of his own.

Award: Create New Pathways

Winner: Kevin Maher

Native American Network+ (NAN+)

Working in the Rapid City site, Kevin Maher saw needs that are different from those in other sites. Almost 25% of his city’s population are Native American, and the employees at his site reflect that demographic. Kevin felt strongly he should find a way to promote, attract and retain great Native American talent. He gathered a group of folks to celebrate, and more deeply apperciate Native American culture. The Native American Network was born.

What Kevin could not have realized was the chord he would strike throughout the entire organization. In every site and every function, people are expressing an affilition or connection to our Native American heritage. There is growing momentum and respect for our Native American Network, and more importantly our Native American colleagues.

The network began because Kevin cared for his team and wanted them to have more opportunity. His care has led for more opportunity for many across our organization and we are grateful.

Award: Take Action

Winner: Larrisa Ramos

African American Network+ (AAN+)

At the end of the 2018 Diversity Symposium Larrisa was resolute that the Puerto Rico site needed an AAN+ chapter. Larrisa recognized the shared history and heritage of the Hispanic and African American cultures. Larrisa independently reached out to the AAN+ leadership team and pitched out her idea on a Puerto Rico AAN+ chapter. Armed with a roadmap to making this ambition a reality, Larrisa returned to Puerto Rico and canvassed the site to determine if others desired to participate and support a local AAN+ chapter. The results showed an overwhelming vote of support to move forward with the idea. Larrisa returned to AAN+ and pitched out the rationale for a chapter and why it was important to celebrate the Afro Caribbean heritage of Puerto Rico. Three short months later, we were celebrating the launch of a Puerto Rico Chapter of AAN+ and installation of the local leadership team - just in time for Hispanic heritage celebration. Larrisa was the guiding force in identifying and taking action to have AAN+ continue to embrace being an inclusive organization.

Award: Pay It Forward

Winner: Nicole Boyce

African American Network+ (AAN+)

AAN+ launched the Women’s Initiative in January 2019. Our women desired a forum to exercise their sisterhood in promoting connectedness, growth, and support of one another in alignment with Synchrony’s values. A model for this work was having great success at a local level in one chapter, and AAN+ sought to replicate that success on a broader scale. In order to get the initiative launched, there was a lot of work by the organizing committee. At the forefront of that work were the efforts of Nicole Boyce who now serves as the co-lead of AAN+ Women’s Initiative. Nicole was instrumental in the development of strategic and operational framework, outlining objectives for the global network and local chapters. She spent several evenings working on the initial launch event as she knew it would establish the foundation to propel initiative forward. A widely successful launch event indicated that the Women’s Initiative would be able to deliver on its promised objectives – several chapters requested to move forward with their components of the program well ahead of the proposed schedule. The Initiative continues to live and thrive, and we want to take this time to thank Nicole Boyce for being a key player in bringing this concept to life.

Award: Be Powerfully Bold

Winner: Vatika Kaura

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender+ Network (LGBT+)

In partnership with Andy Ponneri in late 2017, Vatika Kaura began the bold and ambitious journey of the build out of the LGBT+ India hub. She engaged with senior leaders in India and Globally to assure proper sensitivities in the country were understood and respected while continuing to support the hub inception in one of the largest sites in the business. Beginning with a handful of people and growing to over 400 today, the Hyderabad hub is thriving and serves as a model for how effective hubs are led. Vatika keep us appraised globally of any changes to the climate in India, such as making us aware of amazing initiative for allowing transgender persons to be recognized as independent gender category in the PAN forum. The hub actually hosted the India Consulate General during PRIDE in 2018. The hub is strong and Vatika and her team have delivered for the membership in Hyderabad above and beyond anyone's expectations, having held dozens of events, sponsoring Sr. Leader round tables, and fostering educational sessions.

Award: Retain Pillar Leadership

Winner: Denise Cullinan

Women’s Network+ (WN+)

When each diversity network was asked to stand up a new retain pillar, we knew that we needed a proven executer. At the time, WN+ had limited offerings in this area consisting of BLP Mentoring and Women’s Empowerment Circles. The WN+ needed to establish meaningful attract and retain initiatives that had broad appeal to all of its 4,500 members. When asked to lead this effort, this leader quickly accepted the challenge and within several months, had assembled a team of all-star women to develop new ideas and fresh content

Specifically, this leader imagined and delivered the following new initiatives to appeal to women at every point along their career journey…

She launched GPTW Discovery sessions to understand what programing our global members are looking for to support their professional and personal development.

Created a WN+ University Outreach initiative with the University of Connecticut, Boston College and the University of Notre Dame to develop, foster and expand working relationships & programming with on campus university women’s groups and their members to attract students as future employees
She sponsored an Associate Engagement pilot in Charlotte aimed at building business acumen and critical experiences for our associate members that number over 2,400.

She established an Early Career Engagement focus to connect young professionals across the organization to learn about the business, find common interests and accelerate their engagement.

She launched an Experience Professional Engagement program to ensure our seasoned talent still had opportunities to network and grow
Finally, she brought to life our vision of Alumni Mentoring enlisting SVP+ retirees to be mentors for up and coming high potential women.

Denise Cullinan brings a “can do” attitude to every single call and WN+ meeting. Thank you - Denise for always leading with your heart and by your example. Your passion for building ALL women up has made a difference in our network and across Synchrony!

Award: Outstanding WN+ Communications

Winner: Sabrina Stout

Women’s Network+ (WN+)

When Sabrina Stout volunteered to get involved with Women’s Network+ Communications team, she immediately embraced her role and understood the impact clear, concise and interesting communications would have on its more than 4500+ members. She started by gathering newsworthy stories and updates and eventually became the lead co-collaborator on all national communications. Sabrina used her creative and marketing expertise to reformat the quarterly newsletters into an eye catching and easy to read format. [In addition, she took on more responsibilities in 2019 for External Partnerships fostering relationships outside of Synchrony to provide networking and brainstorming opportunities for the WN+ members.]

As a direct result of Sabrina’s actions, the WN+ communications always contain key informative messages that no one wants to miss. Sabrina is engaging and energetic and always stands at the ready to help out no matter what else she may have going on. She is passionate about the WN+ and her involvement is an embodiment of its goals of being able to thrive and contribute not only to her own personal and professional development but also to Synchrony’s success.

Thank you and congratulations to Sabrina for her valuable efforts, contributions and leadership in making an impact across the WN+.

Award: Pay It Forward

Winner: Walter Johnson

Asian Professional Engagement Network+ (APEN+)

Walter Johnson has been a key member of the APEN+ family, both in the Chicago office and at a national level for several years and has taken a variety of leadership roles throughout his tenor. Most recently and notably, he is our Grow and Promote leader across APEN+. Under Walter’s leadership, the team has developed a recognition program, 30+ interview workshops, and developed a mentorship program that has paired over 120 mentors and mentees. Walter is an authentic leader and works to ensure he is promoting the APEN+ mission, along with Synchrony’s focus on diversity. The Synchrony value Walter embodies is Responsible. He is accountable and continues to deliver – both in his day job and with APEN+. Thank you, Walter, for all of your hard work and dedication!

Award: Lead the Change

Winner: Amar Malik

People with Disabilities Network+ (PDN+)

A good example of an active and engaged leader with new and fresh ideas. He led the succession planning for all the Hub leaders and their pillar leads. Simultaneously worked on generating feedback from Hub leaders and their member base in order to determine future strategic initiatives and priorities for the network. He represented PDN+ and Synchrony at the annual Disability IN conference sharing and learning best practices in order to continually improve the value PDN+ provides. At Chicago Hub he helped create strong strategic partnerships locally with organizations such as the Special Olympics of Illinois, The Chicago Lighthouse, and Misericordia, leading to hundreds of hours of community service and thousands of dollars in donations and grants to those organizations to support the Chicagoland community. The Capitol visit and an interaction with 2 congressmen same time last year is an experience the network will remember and cherish. Thank you Amar has been successfully leading the Hubs and membership for the network.

Award: Lead the Change

Winner: Pamela Lucas

People with Disabilities Network+ (PDN+)

She had the longest association with the network while in GE and associated with it since it all started in Synchrony. Successful led our effort on the Disability Equality index with a score of 100 for 3 consecutive years and has Synchrony being named as one of the “2019 Best Places to Work for People with Disabilities!” Our partnership with Disability:IN. has laid the foundation for us to learn from and best practice with other participating corporations. A strong believer of Companies that improve inclusion over time out perform their peers. Always looking for opportunities on what we could do better in our inclusion journey. As member of the steering committee helped us establish our quarterly townhalls and build greater integration with hubs and providing the much needed spotlight. She is the leading the effort with the right partners on making reasonable accommodation simple, timely and effective. Thank you Pamela Lucas Operating Lead for everything you have been leading and supporting.