PMI New Jersey Chapter
PMINJ 2021 Mar Meeting

PDU Information

Program Number: C02020210316
Title: Anatomy of an Iceberg - Beneath the Surface of Diversity in Leadership

Activity Sponsor: PMINJ Chapter (C020)
PDUs: - 1.5
Leadership - 0.75
Strategic - 0.75
Technical - 0.0


Vanessa Phipps will be the moderator of a panel discussion that she has constructed using the metaphor of an iceberg to illustrate that 90% of what influences how we see and live in the world may not be immediately obvious to the people with whom we interact(e.g., our values, education, family structure, etc.). Together with the panel, Vanessa will explore the role of diversity, equity and inclusion (DEI) in leadership and tap into life experiences to provide key insights into authenticity, allyship and action.


Monthly Speaker


Vanessa Phipps is the founder and principal of The Future Force Group, LLC, a leadership development company that supports her belief that a strong workforce must be built “from the inside up.” Her clients have included multi-billion-dollar for-profit corporations and not-for-profit educational, government, and community-based organizations including Verizon Communications, Inc., the ACLU, the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC), Bryn Mawr College, and Rutgers University.

She is excited by the twenty-first century learners who are poised to become our twenty-first century’s leaders, and believes organizations currently governed through control will soon be powered by influence. Vanessa describes her consulting style as “curious, open, creative, collaborative and fun - but serious about her clients’ success.” Her clients are individuals who want to discover, describe, and effectively demonstrate their unique style - whether through their ability to command an audience, influence decision-makers, or build a growth-driven team and organization. She believes that “you have to know you to grow you,” and that success is built “from the inside up.”

Her experience spans the compliance and ED&I space as well where she honed her skills at Aventis Pharmaceuticals (now Sanofi, U.S.) by building a talent planning process in partnership with Executive Leadership - resulting in a measurable commitment by C-Suite leaders to identify and promote diverse talent in their respective division’s talent and succession planning goals. Vanessa oversaw the launch of the first Women’s and first African American Employee Resource Groups (ERGs) at two major corporations and managed the submission process for the Working Mother Top 100 awards, resulting in the companies garnering the honors for the first time. More recently, she supported the ACLU in chartering and launching their first five ERGs.

In addition to her twenty years of successful executive and management development, coaching, and team conflict resolution, combined with a strong background in compliance and global diversity and inclusion consulting, Vanessa also served as Director of Freshman Enrichment Programs for her alma mater, Lincoln University of PA where she was instrumental in the redesign of the freshman core curriculum, and served as Freshman Class Advisor for over 500 students. Vanessa serves as the Board President of the New Jersey Chapter of the National Association of African Americans in Human Resources (NAAAHR New Jersey), an organization that provides ongoing professional development and networking opportunities for the Association’s HR and business members, university students and Women and Minority-owned Businesses. NAAAHR New Jersey also supports sponsoring corporations in defining and refining their equity, diversity and inclusion mission, goals, and execution.

She sits on the Trustee Board of the Human Needs Food Pantry in Montclair, New Jersey which, since 1982, has fought to combat food insecurity, provide limited client medical screenings, and offer a variety of outreach and support resources for local and surrounding communities.


Christine Blair

spkrChristine is a servant leader, facilitator, and Project Engineering Consultant, where she applies her leadership, systems thinking and human centered design principles to complex projects. She is passionate about hosting thoughtful, impactful conversations that drive action, from strategy to career insights. She is the Deputy Chair of PMI Toronto's EDI Working Group, and an active volunteer with many other established organizations including SWE, SCWIST, and IEEE. She can also be found leading the launch of new initiatives, driving change in inclusion and belonging. She has worked in transportation construction for 9 years, most notably on major light rail projects across Canada in SNC-Lavalin's Rail & Transit Engineering business. Christine graduated from Engineering Physics, Electrical Option, of Queen's University and is currently pursuing an Executive MBA through Quantic School of Business & Technology.

Nponano Maikori

spkr“Working to change the world…one word at a time!” Communication aficionado who believes we can all transform the world around us by concisely communicating our beliefs, ideas, and emotions, and then converting them into action.

During her more than 20-year career, Nponano has had comprehensive success creating metrics-driven internal and external communications and strategies for companies spanning a wide range of industries. She has used her innate ability to connect with people and build strong relationships as tools to foster and create an atmosphere of inclusiveness in the organizations she has worked in.
Nponano has recently joined Understood as the Senior Manager, Internal Communications. In her previous role as the Communications & Talent Manager at Local Wisdom, Inc., Nponano oversaw the company’s internal and external communications, while also managing their commitment to recruiting, hiring, developing, and retaining the best talent in the industry with a focus on DE&I. Prior to joining Local Wisdom, she spent 5 years as a Senior Business Communications Consultant at Wells Fargo.
Outside of work, Nponano has been involved in several community programs and initiatives. She has been a Peer Mentor for Big Brothers Big Sisters of America, an active member of the National Association of Black Journalists (NABJ) and was the Communication Chair for the YMCA of Metropolitan Dallas.

Steve Ossi

spkrProcess improvement leader with 35+ years' experience focused on streamlining business processes and creating efficiencies across functional departments.    Data driven and a practical approach to problem solving bridges the gap between technology and stakeholders comfortably.   Passionate about achieving strategic goals by leveraging technology and improving business processes delivering solutions for cross-functional teams with a focus on driving higher margins and revenue growth. 

A diverse and well-rounded experience in Sales, IT, Client Services, Operations, Accounting and Management Leadership Teams gives me a unique background that disrupts silos throughout my organization.

Current Role: Sr. Director Enterprise Software Delivery, CoWorx Staffing Services LLC

Lystra Haynes

spkrLystra Haynes has been in the project/program management field for 20+ years and manages full lifecycle projects on a global scale.  Lystra holds certification in Project Management Professional – PMP, Certified Scrum Master – CSM, Associates in Reinsurance – ARe, and Chartered Property Casualty Underwriter – CPCU.
Lystra is a member and volunteer with PMINJ for 18 years.  She has served on the PMINJ board in many capacities as Director of the Mentor Program, VP of Recognition and most recently appointed to the VP of Diversity Equity & Inclusion.
At Munich Re, Lystra served on the Diversity & Inclusion Council for 6 years, with a focus on valuing and leveraging the full potential and uniqueness of the employees to achieve business success while creating an inclusive workplace where everyone can feel welcomed and heard. Lystra is also an advocate for the Employee Resource Groups – ERGs, that are employee-led interest groups, aim to raise awareness of issues facing people of a specific demographic, race, religion, or sexual identity. These groups often advocate for a better, more inclusive workplace and socially responsible business practices. 

Lori Gacioch

spkrLori Gacioch, PMP, PMI-ACP is currently the President of the PMI Rochester Chapter and has been practicing project management for 21 years. She spent the bulk of her career serving at Xerox Corp managing large and mid-sized projects and programs in the Office and Services Business Units. She spent 2 years in the Health Care Industry and is now working in the retail industry. In 2018 she obtained her PMI-ACP certification and transitioned to becoming the first ScrumMaster / Agile Coach at Wegmans Food Markets. Lori is also currently a Disciplined Agile Champion for her chapter.

In the past 5 years, Lori has volunteered on the PMI Rochester Board of Directors as VP and Secretary, VP of Governance and VP of Marketing and Communications and now President.

Other Meetings: None

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