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Diversity Professional Magazine Hosts 4th Women of Excellence Awards

The 5th Women of Excellence Awards is scheduled as an in-person event on April 24, 2022.

LOS ANGELES, CALIFORNIA, USA, June 1, 2021 / -- Diversity Professional magazine, an interactive international publication for the diversity, equity, and inclusion industry with a focus on business, career and lifestyle for entrepreneurs, business owners and professionals, held its Women of Excellence Awards on May 4, 2021, to spotlight women in the community for their exemplary work and advocacy, inspiring others with their vision and leadership.

Eight honorees were recognized for their exceptional achievements at this 4th edition of the event, which included a roundtable discussion on Empowering Women to Lead Through Crisis. Attended virtually by a record audience this year, several presenters, sponsors, vendors, and volunteers came together to help produce the successful event, established in 2017 to celebrate extraordinary women of diversity operating at the highest levels of excellence.

Diversity Professional CEO and President Melissa Simmons shares, “Though we couldn’t be together in person this year, that did not stop us from shining a light on the amazing women of excellence in our community. Our attendees had many ‘aha’ moments hearing from our speakers, honorees, and guest panelists through the day. We are grateful everyone took the time to share their day with us.”

This year’s honorees are:

Women of Excellence Legacy Award
Donna DeBerry | Vice President, Global Inclusion, Seismic

Women of Excellence Champion Award
Virginia Gomez | President & CEO, Southern Californian Minority Supplier Development Council

Women of Excellence Leadership Award
Jasmin Hall | Director, Inland Empire Utilities Agency

Women of Excellence Inspiration Award
Robin Billups | The Connector, The Billups Group

Women of Excellence Advocate Award
Drisha Melton | Supplier Diversity & Regulatory Policy, California Public Utilities Commission

Women of Excellence Game Changer Award
Anita Darden Gardyne | President & CEO, Onēva Inc

Women of Excellence Entrepreneur Award
Bernita McCann Hightower | President & CEO, Next Generation Fuel, LLC

Women of Excellence in a Supporting Role Award
Samantha Varela | Supplier Diversity Administrator, American Honda Motor Co, Inc.

Gloria M. Burton, program manager for supplier diversity and development at Southern California Edison, provided the opening remarks as the title sponsor. Special guest Mayor Acquanetta Warren of Fontana, California, shared a welcome message and Alpas Athletix CEO and Founder Anya Nova served as Mistress of Ceremonies. CEO and Founder of TSI, LLC Tiana Sanchez delivered the keynote speech on Thriving During the Unimaginable.

Roundtable panelists included Priscilla Chavez, manager of business development at PCL Construction; Shay Gillespie, global enterprise sales central division business development manager at WWT and founder of Color Coded Kids; Robin Billups, connector at The Billups Group; and Sandra James, owner of Private Eyes Screening Group. Sophie Gibson, founder and CEO of Vivo360 Inc, moderated the conversation.

“We saw fantastic participation in the chat rooms all through the event, heard an inspiring roundtable discussion, and our keynote speaker provided actionable takeaways. We are delighted to provide valuable programming to our community and look forward to hosting more events in the future,” says Diversity Professional’s Managing Editor Ruksana Hussain.

The 5th Women of Excellence Awards is scheduled as an in-person event on April 24, 2022.

To stay updated on Diversity Professional’s events, and subscribe to the summer anniversary special Women’s edition, visit
Diversity Professional
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