Make-A-Wish Foundation – Interview with Los Angeles AWE Leader Tricia Justice, on being a Board member for a non-profit organization.

We recently had the honor of interviewing our AWE Leader Tricia Justice, VP, Human Resources at Brightview Landscapes Development. In addition to her role at BrightView Landscapes Development, Tricia is the Chairman of the Board of the Make-A-Wish Foundation – Greater Los Angeles, a non-profit organization whose mission is to grant life-changing wishes for children with critical illnesses. The belief that a wish experience can be a game-changer for a child with a critical illness is what drives and inspires them to try and grant the wish of every eligible child.

Tricia highly recommends doing one’s research and finding an organization that really speaks to your heart. This was no different for Tricia – after fostering and adopting animals all her life, she ultimately found that helping children spoke to her heart more than anything else.  As it did for her, once you take that first step, you will gain the confidence to be able to join a Board anywhere. Make-A-Wish is actively looking for Board members now!

AWE: How did you get involved on a Board?  What was the first step you took?

Tricia: The first Board seat I ever held was with a church I attended. Most Boards today are made up of white males – when they meet a woman that is part of the organization that is smart and hardworking and has the ability to think on her feet, the immediate reaction tends to be, “wow, not only is she a good set of hands but what’s a more effective way to include her as a thought leader within our organization.” And that is often the typical path because women are generally not raised to put themselves out there and ask for a Board seat.  When you start volunteering or giving of your time, in return, you get so much intrinsic value from that.  I was ushering every Sunday while serving meals to the homeless, one Thursday a month. You go from “okay, I’ll volunteer once a month then you’re volunteering every Sunday and every Thursday.”  After taking that first step and holding a Board seat, that then gave me the confidence that I could do it anywhere.

 AWE: There are so many non-profit organizations that need help – what drew you to Make-A-Wish Foundation?

Tricia: I was raised from an early age to give back, as I have been very blessed in my life.  My personal mantra that I wrote in high school, which still lives with me today, is “leave it better than you found it”.  The “It” is any organization that I work for and any person that I meet.  That desire to give back and to improve the world led me to Make-A-Wish.  The charity resonated with me as a way to get involved with children, since I could not have any of my own and as my 6 nieces and nephews were getting older, it simply made sense to avail my passion and volunteerism further in this direction.  

AWE: What are the added responsibilities of being on a Board?  What is the time commitment?

Tricia: Like anything in life, if it is important to you, you learn to balance it out. When you initially join a Board, depending on the Board – most meet quarterly so you’re committing a couple of hours a quarter. Then if you get more involved and become a thought leader and while continuing to add value, you may then be asked to chair a sub-committee at which point, could lead to a couple more hours a quarter. Right now with Make-A-Wish, because we are in crisis mode due to the current economic environment – how do we continue to raise funds and continue to grant wishes when there is no way we can put a sick kid on a plane? We are now meeting every other month, but I think if it’s important to you, you make time for it and of course, it is crucial to have the support of your supervisor and/or your organization as well.” Support from our respective organizations allows you to push back effectively because if I didn’t push back on my calendar, every minute I have scheduled for Make-A-Wish would get double-booked with my work with Brightview, so having that support of your organization and your supervisor goes a long way.

AWE:  What was the process of getting on a Board? What did you do to prepare?

Tricia: Do your research and determine what speaks to you, be it Make-A-Wish, or any other non-profit that exists.  Check out the ratings of the organization and ensure you are getting involved with a good one.  Reach out to one or two current Board members and gain additional insights and perspectives on the organization.  Mentally check your schedule and ensure you have the time to participate in Board meetings and get comfortable asking family and friends, as well as your company, to support you in your mission of fundraising.  Then submit your resume and enthusiastically present yourself as a candidate as you would for any other role. 

I did a lot of research and I have done that with each organization that I have volunteered for.  The most valuable asset I have to give is my time. If you are interested in a Board, you should choose what really speaks to your heart and then do research because you will find that there are tons and tons and tons of organizations out there that give back. Ultimately Make-A-Wish really spoke to me.

After researching multiple non-profits related to children, I called the CEO of the local chapter to express my interest.  I later met with the CEO and then the Chairman of the Board and discussed why Make-A-Wish was a fit for me and my personal goal of giving back.  I was able to express how my HR talents could benefit the chapter and the Board, and how I could use my personal network to raise funds for the organization.  After that meeting, I started with attending a meeting and then jumped in with wish-granting and fundraising. 

Again it’s your free time, it’s your off time… often it’s the nights and weekends that you are doing these things so it really needs to be something that speaks to your heart. Choose the charity that you feel most strongly about and then start with that quarterly meeting and see where your heart takes you.

AWE:  What has been most rewarding about working with Make-A-Wish?

Tricia: When I first joined the Board at Make-A-Wish, I went through wish-granting training and then went out to grant a wish with an experienced wish granter.  I met a beautiful young girl at 10 years of age who had been through 4 years of multiple surgeries and treatments.  I saw a shine of light in her and hope that one day she would return to being a “normal kiddo” who could do everything her friends were doing.  I spoke to her about what her wish was and why it was important to her. She had not been able to travel because of her health battle and she said my older sister went to Disney when she was young and told me how wonderful it was – she wanted a Disney wish. When she got back from her trip with her family, she made me a scrapbook with all her polaroid photos. That was what locked me in. That’s what cemented my commitment to Make-A-Wish and the difference I was making in these kids’ lives. I still feel like a member of that family. I still get a Christmas card from them every year. And that’s just one little girl. But that’s what matters – you’re saving and impacting lives one at a time.

AWE: What do Boards look for when recruiting new Board members?

Tricia: There’s really two roles that you’ll play. One, you’re bringing some degree of expertise. For me, being an HR professional I often get pulled in to help from an HR perspective. We are always looking for marketing people to bring that expertise. You act as a coach or consultant for the staff. There is a finance committee which is one of the sub-committees of the Board. We are always looking for a CFO or two or a VP of Finance, somebody that makes sure that the numbers make sense and work.  You are not managing the statements but you are providing oversight to ensure that everything we are doing is being done correctly from an accounting rules perspective. You are bringing functional expertise as well as oversight and guidance. It’s a governance thing: “Hey, are we running this charity as efficiently and effectively as possible?”

Then the second thing that you are bringing is your company and your Rolodex. The whole point of any event, our Gala for example is that you’ve got great talent in LA to perform and you invite people who have financial means to donate. Fundraising is important. My company (Brightview Landscapes Development) always buys a table and the President of our company and his wife attend annually.  I invite other executives and they all donate money.  You could be on the Board and your company may say “we can’t afford at this time to provide financial support of your mission but we will allow you to give your time.” But typically, if a company is going to let you get involved in something like that they will likely support you financially. Another event is our Annual Walk, I had a team from my church and a team from Brightview attend. I had about 43 or 44 people and we raised a lot of money at the Walk. So it’s really the financial fundraising that serves as a focal point.  You know I never thought that I could ask people for money until I got involved with non-profits. I’m not a salesperson. One, I don’t like rejection so I do not want to ask and be told no, but more importantly, how can I ask someone for money? But if it’s something like “hey, would you like to donate money to grant the wish for a child facing a life-threatening illness? Do you know that for every wish granted they are exponentially more likely to survive that illness than a child who doesn’t?” I could tell that story all day! And I can ask anybody for money! So that’s why I say people should truly get involved with something that speaks to their heart because if you can’t sell it why would you want to invest your time in it?

AWE: If someone is interested in getting involved with Make-A-Wish, what would you recommend they do?

Tricia: We are actually actively recruiting Board members right now and people can make a choice –they can get engaged in the LA Chapter or they can get engaged nationally. There are local chapters across the US as well as the national chapter that sits in Arizona. I know there are women across the country that are members of AWE, they can join their local chapter, wherever they live. One thing important to know is that the dollars I give go to the kids in my community. We are definitely looking for Board members and certainly looking for senior women that can bring an influential role to Make-A-Wish!

Please feel free to send me an email at or call me at 714-404-6201.  I am glad to make an introduction to anyone interested in getting involved.  It’s easy, it’s rewarding and you will be able to make an indelible mark in the battle to save children’s lives. 


She Dynasty Podcast Interview with Meiko!

she dynasty interview meiko takayama valerie moizel podcast

Recently, Meiko sat down with Valerie Moizel on the She Dynasty podcast to talk about her entrepreneurship and offer advice on the tools we all need to advance our careers.

In conversation with Valerie, Meiko described her dream career, the inherent biases women face in the workplace, and what’s next for tackling the behavioral change that will increase the number of women in business leadership. Take a listen!

The episode can be found on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and SoundCloud.


The 15 Best Things To Do in New York to Celebrate Women’s History Month

Happy Women’s History Month! Looking for a way to celebrate? Grab your gals and head to one of AWE’s favorite New York events below.

1. Shady Lady at The Met

Multiple dates, Manhattan

Courtesans, royal mistresses, scandalous women of every sort—the walls of the Metropolitan Museum are lined with them, from ancient Greek hetaerae to Sargent’s Madame X. These women, famous not only for sex-appeal but also for their talents—and for a spirit which today we would call ‘entrepreneurial’— fascinated both their wealthy patrons and the artists who created the world’s great masterpieces. But who were they? How did they rise to their positions? And how did they maintain their prominence despite their scandalous reputations? To find out, join us as we explore the lives and loves that lie behind the paintings.

2. Strive, Survive & Thrive, A Women’s History Celebration

March 7th, Hoboken

As recently as the 1970’s women’s history was virtually an unknown topic. This year, on the eve of International Women’s Day, we’re kicking things off on the right foot, or shall we say, heel, preferably red stiletto. A unique gathering has been announced, appropriately titled, Strive, Survive and Thrive. It’s not a feminist event, it’s not a women’s only club, it’s a powerful invitation to bring your best friend, boyfriend, sister, mother and co-workers to unite to hear talks celebrating powerful women. Come with inquisition and leave with adrenaline and fire in your heart. In honor of this year’s speakers, panelists, attendees and activities, we celebrate the accomplishments of women who Strive, Survive & Thrive. From entrepreneurs, to working moms, to corporate executives, successful recovery stories and true artistic visions of your fellow sisters. You’ll even hear from local men about their support of inspirational women. SPEAKERS: Hear from thought-leaders in their teens to their 60s: Survival stories, entrepreneurial ventures, powerful campaigns that create change & more

3. International Women’s Day 2019: #BalanceforBetter

March 8th, Manhattan

Balance drives a better working world. Let’s all help create a #BalanceforBetter. Collective action and shared responsibility for driving a gender-balanced world is key. International Women’s Day is a global day celebrating the social, economic, cultural and political achievements of women – while also marking a call to action for accelerating gender balance.

4. INT’L Women’s Day Screening: A Land Shaped by Women

March 8th, Manhattan

Iceland has been ranked first in gender equality by the U.N. nine years in a row and was the first country in the world to elect a female president. Tag along with world champion snowboarders Anne-Flore Marxer and Aline-Bock as they explore the unique surf, snow, and sky of Iceland, and enjoy inspiring conversations with the women they meet along the way.

5. Women’s History Month Free Screening: Pariah

March 10th, Queens

PARIAH tells the story of Alike, a 17-year-old African American in New York City embracing her identity as a lesbian. Women’s History Month screening. The 2019 Race and Immigration Film Series is supported, in part, by public funds from the New York City Department of Cultural Affairs in partnership with the City Council.

6. Women’s History Month Caribbean Dinner Theatre

March 10th, Queens

DEMERARA GOLD is the story of a spirited, 7-year old Caribbean girl who is left in the care of her two grandmothers after her parents suddenly get visas to the U.S.A. One grandmother is a rigid recluse.  The other grandmother is a religious fanatic. The girl’s dreams are on hold until she gets a visa to join her parents in America. But first, she must survive in both grandmothers’ worlds. Ingrid taps into her wild spirit to break away and reunite with her parents in her new home in America only to find that her battle has just begun. You’ll laugh ’til you cry!

7. Statue of Liberty? Myths about the Lady in the Harbor

March 11th, Manhattan

Francesca Lidia Viano speaks about her new book, Sentinel: The Unlikely Origins of the Statue of Liberty. Few structures have become as iconic, for the city and nation, as the Statue of Liberty. Yet its own history remains obscure. In this new work, “the fullest account yet of the people and ideas that brought the lady of the harbor to life,” Viano, a Fellow at Harvard’s Weatherhead Center for International Affairs, discusses the contradictory mix of ideologies and values behind it.

8. Women of the World Festival

March 12th-17th, Harlem

WOW Festival celebrates the power of women and girls from Harlem and around the world. At WOW, we’ll unite and explore a variety of issues that affect women across cultural and social boundaries. Stories will be shared, feelings vented, fun had, minds influenced and hearts expanded. The Apollo Theater is proud to be WOW’s New York home and its programming centers on issues and topics of interest to Women of Color.

9. Wycoff House Museum Family Day

March 16th, Brooklyn

The Wyckoff House Museum preserves, interprets, and operates New York City’s oldest building and the surrounding one-and-a-half acres of park. Through innovative educational and farm-based programs we build cultural and agricultural connections within our community, emphasizing immigration, family, food, and community through history. Share the traditional craft of weaving with family members of all ages at the Wyckoff House Museum’s March Family Day, featuring textile artist Iviva Olenick. We’ll be celebrating Women’s History Month by diving into weaving, an activity that was essential to life for the Wyckoff family and others in colonial New York. Learn how to prepare a loom, draw a design, and complete a colorful weaving in a fun shape! Families can also explore our colonial toys and games, scavenger hunts, and our beautiful house and grounds.

10. For People of Size: Understanding and Challenging Weight Stigma and its Consequences

March 16th, Manhattan

In this workshop we will explore way to honor the embodied trauma of being very large in our society and thus functioning as the “bad object” for others, using relational, embodied and cognitive strategies. Participants will learn about the impact of the social world on clinical work and the need to do the work of “mourning” in order to honor ourselves and our clients in the face of this traumatizing culture. We will focus on therapist’s countertransference when being near and treating very large women. We will also explore the experience of being a large-bodied therapist.

11. Generation Women Storytelling Night

March 20th, Manhattan

Generation Women blends a lively literary salon with the tradition of handing down wisdom from community elders. Our intimate monthly event showcases the hearts and minds of a wide variety of impressive women. All are welcome to join us.

12. Women’s History Month Roundtable Empower (Women Owned Small Business)

March 21st, Long Island City

Join us to celebrate the Women’s Month and learn how to start a business, how to get the 5% of the Federal government contracts, and the resources and assistance for Women Owned Small Business (WOSB).

13. Asser Levy Women’s History Month Art Exhibition and Opening Reception

March 29th, Manhattan

In honor of Women’s History Month, Asser Levy is highlighting various talented women artists across different art styles. These women have inspired and created incredible works of all types of art. Discover their stories and let them spark your imagination!

14. 10th Annual Women of the World Summit

April 10th-12th, Manhattan

Join us on April 10-12, 2019 for the 10th annual Women in the World summit — a convening of mighty women leaders, blazing activists and courageous movers and shakers who will move you with their provocative first-person storytelling and shake up your worldview. To mark 10 years of shaping opinions, setting agendas and introducing you to the next generation of female leaders, we’ll celebrate and share the stories of women on the front edge of change who have presided over this great awakening in the global women’s movement and are leading it into the next decade. Be there for an exhilarating three days at New York’s Lincoln Center for conversations with women who will not be silenced by censorship, patriarchy, or injustice — women who wake us all up and take down fake news. In a time of synced-up opinions and dubious viral headlines, get inspired by galvanizing women leaders on the Women in the World stage — live, unscripted, stoked and woke.

15. Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider: Why Does Patriarchy Persist?

May 5th, Manhattan at Mount Sinai

The election of an unabashedly patriarchal man as US President was a shock for many—despite decades of activism on gender inequalities and equal rights, how could it come to this? What is it about patriarchy that seems to make it so resilient and resistant to change? Undoubtedly it endures in part because some people benefit from the unequal advantages it confers. But is that enough to explain its stubborn persistence ?In their recently published and highly original book Why does patriarchy persist? Carol Gilligan and Naomi Snider argue that patriarchy persists, in part, because it serves psychological functions.


New York AWE Leader, Judy Jackson on Building Trust, Leading With Honesty, and Embracing Who You Were Born to Be

By: Jasmine Pierik

 Judy Jackson, Global Head of Culture at WPP and Advancing Women Executives Leader.
Judy Jackson, Global Head of Culture at WPP and Advancing Women Executives Leader.

New York AWE Leader, Judy Jackson, was recently promoted to the Global Head of Culture for WPP. Formerly, she was the Global Chief Talent Officer at Wunderman. Judy is a thought leader in human resources management whose career includes stints as chief talent officer at IPG Mediabrands North America and Digitas, and HR roles at Time Inc. and BBDO. Known for her candid, straightforward approach and her unmistakable laugh, she takes a fresh approach to traditional employee programs to develop a culture driven by honesty and transparency.

Recently Judy sat down with our Founder and CEO, Meiko Takayama, in New York City for the second segment of our AWE Accelerator program to share her story. The room was transfixed and by the end of the conversation, everyone was hungry for more. I decided to give Judy a call to dive in a bit deeper to see what other gold we could find.

 Judy (center) next to her best friend, Debbie (on Judy’s right). The two are still best friends today.
Judy (center) next to her best friend, Debbie (on Judy’s right). The two are still best friends today.

Thank you so much for taking the time to connect today. Let’s start at the beginning. Will you tell me about young Judy? What did you want to be when you grew up? Did you always have dreams of ending up in Corporate America?

I am just a black chick from Brooklyn. I was born and bred in Bed Stuy when it was nothing like it is today. My childhood was marked by fun. In fact, I was given the nickname Sunshine because I was such a happy kid! I grew up with 2 sisters and a bother. We have strong Jamaican roots and part of that is having family at the center of everything. Theatre was my passion and I took acting lessons. I guess I thought I’d be an actress when I grew up…I’m still waiting for my big break! (laughs)

My older sister was an actress and she went to Performing Arts High School. Some of my fondest memories growing up were of practicing lines with her. She was my role model, I wanted to be just like her. Although I didn’t become a professional actress, self-expression has always been so important to me.

I don’t think I knew what Corporate America was back then, so I definitely didn’t have dreams of ending up there. But even today, I don’t feel like what I do is “Corporate America.” I see it as providing a service that is needed in all kinds of institutions, schools, etc., and I just happen to be doing it in business.

I read that you studied media and mass communications in college. How did you end up in HR?

I knew I wanted to go into media, but I wasn’t sure in what capacity. I took a class in advertising and instantly fell in love. I started looking for an internship in advertising and found one at a small black owned ad agency. A few weeks in, I knew that was exactly what I wanted to do. When I finished school, I went to a headhunter and expressed interest in advertising and moving to DC. The headhunter liked me so much, he offered me a position at the firm to help candidates so that I could get paid while I also searched for my dream job! A few weeks in, an advertising position at BBDO and a recruiting position at ABC Television surfaced. ABC sounded like the more secure choice, after all it was ABC! I ended up becoming a Junior Recruiter and stayed for five years, until I became the Manager of Minority Recruiting. Those were fun times. I did some interviewing for on-air talent, I was in my 20s, and in the exact space that I wanted to be in.

 Judy and her niece/daughter, Christina. Judy adopted 8-year-old Christina, when she was just starting her career at ABC.
Judy and her niece/daughter, Christina. Judy adopted 8-year-old Christina, when she was just starting her career at ABC.

Then life happened, as it does. I had a string of tragedies mark my life very suddenly. Both of my sisters passed away along with my sister’s husband and I had to be the Executor of their estates. This was a really hard time. My sisters had raised me. As my parents passed away when I was still a child and being the closest living relative, my sister requested that in the event of her death, I would be the legal guardian for her 8-year-old daughter. I was 27 years old, I had just gotten married, and now I was raising an 8-year-old girl. This obviously meant a lot of shift for my life, starting with my job at ABC. After all the tragedy, it became a daily topic of conversation. I had become marked by these tragedies. I wanted to reinvent myself and start somewhere new where I would just be Judy, not Judy who had suffered this great loss. I would later discover that this became a pattern, anytime there was a major change in my life, I changed jobs, too.

Coincidentally, I ended up at BBDO as the Vice President, Manager of Human Resources, where I spent five great years. As you can imagine all of that shift was a lot of pressure for a young marriage. My husband and I ended up getting a divorce – an amicable one – and of course, I felt I needed to switch jobs, because this time I didn’t want to be divorced Judy. If I was going to reinvent myself again, I wanted to try something really different. An opportunity came my way to be the VP of Organizational Development at Planned Parenthood. As a single mom of a 12-year-old girl, I liked the idea of being around young teenage girls. This seemed like something worth trying.

Wow. Talk about a 180. How was that change coming from the world of advertising?

I had no idea how hard it would be. My responsibilities included monitoring our programs and deciding what to keep, iterate, get rid of. At the time I was monitoring a program called, Street Beat. We’d go out in a van in the middle of the night and search for women on the street who were in bad shape and give out condoms, non-perishable food items, etc., and offer an opportunity for the women to get some respite from the street and talk to a counselor. I remember thinking, wow, we are changing the world.

One night, this woman came into the van and shared her story. She had five kids at home, alone, and she would do whatever she needed to do in order to feed them. After talking to our counselor, the woman seemed inspired to make a change in her life. She said she would come in to get more help the very next day. When she left I looked at the counselor and said, “This girl is going to change her life!” The counselor looked at me with zero enthusiasm and ensured me that the woman wouldn’t show up. I woke up the next day excited at the possibility that maybe the counselor was wrong. Sadly, she wasn’t.

In that moment, I decided I didn’t have the stomach for that work. Shortly after I returned to the safety of advertising, a space where, in HR, I felt like I could see a more direct impact of my labor in the lives around me. Although I left, I am so grateful for my time at Planned Parenthood. I learned some big lessons that I’ve kept with me forever:

1. Mission matters. People need to be connected to each other and what they are working towards. You really learn that at a not-for-profit because pay doesn’t keep people around, the mission does. This is a valuable lesson for managers who are thinking of how to engage their team.
2. It’s important to test your dreams. Dip your toe into things that you may want to do, so that you can really find the things that you love. This is one of the reasons why it’s so important for young people to do internships. You’ve got to taste a lot of different things before you can make a decision about what you want to do with your life.
3. Find out what you want your impact to look and feel like. I realized that I needed to be somewhere I could see results, even if my impact was small. I had a dream that I would make an impact and I wasn’t going to be satisfied until I did just that. Working in HR I saw how I could create change in someone’s life for the better and that fulfills my soul. You have to find what works for you. Additionally, it was important for me to learn that not everyone wants to have a huge impact with their work. For some people, it’s simply how they pay the bills. It’s not everyone’s expectation to be truly fulfilled by their job. But for me, I am living my calling!

I can hear the passion in your voice. How exciting to do work that ignites you and leaves you feeling truly fulfilled at the end of each day! Speaking of lessons learned, can you share a story from when you were just starting out that’s really stuck with you?

Yes, I have so many! For years, I’ve been recording episodes that have happened to me in my life and work and the lessons I’ve learned along the way. I am going to compile them into a book in the near future. I’ll share a story from back when I was in school and was preparing to go for my first interview ever. Being a young black girl from Brooklyn meant that if you had an interview, it was time to get your hair done. My sister used to go to this real shi shi salon in Manhattan, and given that I wanted to be just like her and I trusted her, I knew that was just the place.

While I was waiting my turn, there was this older woman there who was in a rush and wasn’t getting serviced as quickly as she had hoped. She was visibly upset about the wait time. Being who I was, I went up to her and I said, “Excuse me, Miss, my sister has been coming here for years and I think you should wait it out. They do an excellent job and I’m positive that you won’t regret it!” I was able to calm her down enough that she decided to stay. When her hair was all done, I made sure to go back up to her and tell her how great her new style looked and she was very appreciative. That was Saturday.

On Monday, I went in for my interview and guess who was the interviewer? None other than the woman from the salon! I tell people this story to remind them that you are always interviewing. As you could have guessed, I was hired on the spot.

I don’t think I ever went out and proactively looked for a job, they all seemed to come to me. And this wasn’t because of some streak of luck, it was because I actively TRY to take care of my resume – and I don’t mean the paper one – I mean the way in which I interact with the world. YOU are your resume. The way you show up. How you treat people. Your reputation. Never forget that you are interviewing every single day.

 Judy and her mentor, Joanne Zaiac.
Judy and her mentor, Joanne Zaiac.

Is there a person that really helped you when you were starting out?

Oh absolutely! There is a woman named Joanne Zaiac. I met her when I interviewed for my first time at Wunderman. Joanne was head of client service then (eventually became a President at Digitas). Early in my career, she was a friend and mentor. She always told me the truth and still does. She stood by me, she shared crucial information with me, she’d always go out of her way to make sure I was okay. When I was pregnant, she even gave me all her old maternity clothes! Joanne taught me that while honesty is hard, it’s also a gift. This is especially rare in advertising, where we are trained to massage the message. Joanne never did that. Instead, she made things look like what they were. I always knew that if I needed to hear the truth, I would get a direct answer from her.  

I try to give that back to people. I do my best to be open and candid. It’s not often that you find people who have the courage to be respectfully honest. That kind of truthfulness is so meaningful, because you know whomever is delivering it is doing so because they care. It’s hard to be honest. In fact, you have to get permission to be honest. You have to build some trust before people can appreciate that level of honesty. Trust has to be the foundation. It doesn’t have to take a long time, it can happen in a single conversation, but the trust has to be there in order for honesty to bloom.  

I’m so glad you brought up honesty, because that’s where I was hoping to steer the conversation next. At AWE that’s one of the things that we admire about you most: the authentic way in which you cultivate trust. I read in a previous interview that when you first conducted employee interviews at Wunderman, the first 4 words people kept saying were, “Can I be honest?” Will you tell me more about how you created an environment where people felt safe to share?

It all comes down to being vulnerable. To listening carefully and checking your intent. You know when someone starts a sentence with, “Can I be honest?” that whatever they say next probably isn’t going to be good news. At Wunderman, we worked to cultivate an environment of trust for employees to share freely. Sure, there are some skills that help develop trust (i.e. truly caring about the individual, being an engaged listener, etc.), but more than that, people sense you and your intent. Call it what you want, your aura, your spirit, whatever. People can tell when you’re authentically looking them in the eye and giving them the permission to be honest.

I also try to create space for people to show up and share. I think people want an opportunity to tell their story, and what happens a lot in business is that no one ever really asks, “how are you?” People are hungry to have their story heard. You don’t need a lot of tools to create trust. You simply need to check your intent, be willing to ask, and willing to hear. When you’ve got all that, it becomes a floodgate, so get ready!

You are in the business of people, but you are also in business. How do you manage building relationships while also making tough decisions that aren’t always easy for the employee?

I try to see people as adults and I try to think about how I’d like to be treated in a similar situation. Pretend for a moment that you have cancer and have three months to live. Would you prefer that the doctor: (1) not tell you, (2) surprise you two weeks before your supposed death, or (3) tell you well in advance so that you have time to think through and plan your last three months of life. I personally would opt for the last option. I like to help people think through what’s in front of them, and see how I can help them get through it.

Let’s simply call the elephant what it is: big, gray, funky, and hard to manage. Hiding the truth from people isn’t helpful and that means avoiding sugar coating as well. When something tough comes up, deal with it, because the longer it sits, the more difficult it will be to manage. In sum, face the truth, deal with it honestly – but with care and kindness – and help the individual through the challenge, sincerely. It also really helps if you make a habit of establishing a relationship of trust in every encounter that you have. Tough conversations and decisions will surface, but if you’ve built a foundation of trust, that will bring some ease to every situation.

 Judy pictured with other senior leaders at WPP, including Mark Read (on Judy’s right), who is her boss and the Global CEO at WPP.
Judy pictured with other senior leaders at WPP, including Mark Read (on Judy’s right), who is her boss and the Global CEO at WPP.

You’ve partnered with top CEOs of some of the biggest companies in the world. Did you notice a pattern in behavior of top leaders? Or in other words do you believe that there is a magic trait that all effective leaders share?

There are magic traits and magic behaviors.

Magic Trait: Not being afraid to make tough decisions and always being honest. I noticed that the most effective leaders I’ve worked with held their integrity high on the list. Mark Read, our WPP CEO, is a fine example of that.

Magic Behavior: These leaders know the value of putting talent at the center of their organization. It’s standard for a CEO to keep their finance head close, but when they also keep their talent head close, that’s a high impact trifecta. In my experience, the bosses that created that trifecta did the best.

What’s your current focus at WPP? What are you really excited about there?

My job is to take the values of WPP and embed them in the fabric of the organization. This is a newly created position and I am 6 weeks in the role. I work with teams across our various regions and companies to help shape their leadership, their talent programs, and ultimately their organizational cultures. In my role I work with others to ensure that the way we go to market, is in line with WPP’s core values – from the tools we use, the behaviors we emulate, to how we work every day, to the training and learning, to the people we hire.

 Judy moderating a panel at the 3% Conference in 2017.
Judy moderating a panel at the 3% Conference in 2017.

Right now, I am focused on building communities. For example, I am bringing our global talent leaders across WPP together to get aligned on how we innovate our talent practices against our values. I plan to do this same thing with our D&I leaders at WPP and so forth. Another thing I am passionate about is finding ways for people to feel a sense of belonging. It’s so important that employees feel that they are connected. That’s what I think helps build a culture. Going back to what I learned at Planned Parenthood, folks need to feel like they are in something together and working towards a mission that they believe in. I can help foster that.

In addition, I want to make sure that I am creating a culture where people feel safe to speak up. About a week into my new role, I met with a CEO. He was under a lot of pressure and I asked him where his safe space was. He told me he didn’t have one. He said he felt like he had no one to trust at work and he didn’t want to bring that stress home to his family. That’s when I realized that creating spaces for psychological safety was priority. Additionally, when people feel safe to speak up it also helps the company avoid major pitfalls. I’m sure you’ve heard the phrase, “the emperor has no clothes.” We need to create work environments where the members of the community not only feel safe to voice their opinions and ask for help, but where they also feel okay telling their boss, “you have no clothes on!”

 Judy (center), her husband, Jon (right), and their daughter, Jonay (left).
Judy (center), her husband, Jon (right), and their daughter, Jonay (left).

Your role requires you to hold space and give so much to so many people. How do you take care of yourself?

I have a fabulous support system. My husband, Jonathan, of 23 years, is my best friend; my 17-year-old daughter, Jonay, attends Brooklyn Tech HS, is an old soul and is easily one of my best friends; I am still very close with my best friend Debbie from 6th grade; and my niece/daughter, Christina, whom I talk to everyday (she actually worked for me at one point!). I have some very close sister friends like Pat, Denene, Pam, and my niece, Mariesa. At work, I have a small knit community that I keep close. I never feel alone. I am comfortable letting people know when I need help. Early in my career, and maybe in the business in general, it wasn’t cool to let people know that you need help. I totally let go of that. I let people know when I need something and I am so glad the culture is changing to encourage more of that.

I have another story related to this from when I was working at Digitas.  One day on a walk to get some coffee, my boss asked me how I was doing with work and otherwise. At the time, I had had to create Excel spreadsheets for the project that I was on and I really wasn’t great at them, to the point that they made me dizzy. I told her that and she said, “Why are you doing spreadsheets? I didn’t hire you to do that. I hired you for your ability with people and teams.” She shared that she had gaps in her skill set and had built a team around her to fill those gaps. This was such a memorable moment in my career where I learned that I didn’t have to do everything.

Stop focusing on the areas that you struggle with and instead focus on what you do well. Build a team around you, to support you, to fill the gaps that you will undoubtedly have, and remember that you are not doing a solo performance.

You mentioned earlier that you are interested in writing a book. I am wondering if you can leave us with one last Judy story to round out our conversation today?

Yes, I’ll share a memory that was a big turning point for me and that I love sharing with others because of Its message around being your true self. I was a junior manager at BBDO and I was working for the head of HR, who also happened to be a mentor.  He called me into his office one day and said that he needed to give me some feedback. I remember being nervous – when your boss calls you in for feedback it’s usually around something that you need to improve.

I’ll never forget this. I walked in and he told me I needed to do something with my laugh, “It’s loud, it’s unprofessional, and it’s bad for your career.” Since he was my boss, I took the feedback seriously. I went home and practiced in the mirror. I tried to quiet my laugh, make it less boisterous and full, but I couldn’t! Whatever fake laugh that I was trying to embrace wasn’t authentic. My laugh is the essence of who I am! I decided that there was nothing to be done about it and that if someone can’t accept my laugh, then they can’t accept me. After that incident, I stopped trying to hide myself. I embrace my laugh. It is my spirit. It is part of me.

That moment helped me discover the importance of embracing who you are. Plus, it was a reminder that it takes too much effort to try and be someone else. And you know the beautiful thing? When you embrace yourself, others embrace you too. The thing that was my “worst” trait became my distinguishing quality! And by being myself, I give others permission to be who they are, and that is the basis of any trust-filled relationship. I should thank that boss! He really gave me such a gift, as disguised as it was in that funny looking packaging. But then again, life’s greatest gifts don’t always come tied up with a big bow.

Thank you so much Judy. This has been a true delight.


I Wish I’d Known: Advice for the Next Generation of Leaders

We asked executives in our Leader Program for a piece of advice they wish they had received at the start of their career and we’re thrilled to be passing on the knowledge in this bi-weekly series, I Wish I’d Known.

  Chicago AWE Leader, Ann Carter, Vice President, Purchasing and Supplier Management at Baxter , says, “Self-confidence requires constant tending, so try not to beat yourself up if you have moments of self-doubt. Re-adjust and don’t let self-doubt turn into self-sabotage. “
Chicago AWE Leader, Ann Carter, Vice President, Purchasing and Supplier Management at Baxter , says, “Self-confidence requires constant tending, so try not to beat yourself up if you have moments of self-doubt. Re-adjust and don’t let self-doubt turn into self-sabotage. “


I Wish I’d Known: Advice for the Next Generation of Leaders

We asked executives in our Leader Program for a piece of advice they wish they had received at the start of their career and we’re thrilled to be passing on the knowledge in this bi-weekly series, I Wish I’d Known.

  New York AWE Leader, Katharine Gill, COO, Financial Services Company  says, “Always do your best; don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes - as long as you learn from them!”
New York AWE Leader, Katharine Gill, COO, Financial Services Company says, “Always do your best; don’t be afraid to take chances and make mistakes – as long as you learn from them!”


I Wish I’d Known: Advice for the Next Generation of Leaders

We asked executives in our Leader Program for a piece of advice they wish they had received at the start of their career and we’re thrilled to be passing on the knowledge in this bi-weekly series, I Wish I’d Known.

  Chicago AWE Leader, Kathleen Cantillon, Vice President, Strategic Communications at an Aviation Company  says, “Fake it until you make it - in other words, you don’t have to know how to do every responsibility listed with a specific role. If you know some of it, are smart, and know how to ask good questions – you will do fine. Believe me, men have no hesitation going for a new job/role that they might not be totally qualified for and you have to think the same way to move up.”
Chicago AWE Leader, Kathleen Cantillon, Vice President, Strategic Communications at an Aviation Company says, “Fake it until you make it – in other words, you don’t have to know how to do every responsibility listed with a specific role. If you know some of it, are smart, and know how to ask good questions – you will do fine. Believe me, men have no hesitation going for a new job/role that they might not be totally qualified for and you have to think the same way to move up.”


6 Habits to Adopt if You Want More Respect at Work

By: Danielle Wood via Fairygodboss

 Photo by  rawpixel  on  Unsplash
Photo by rawpixel on Unsplash

Being good at your job means more than mastering a set of skills. It’s not just about what you do, but  how you do it. Getting things done by blunt force may work in the short term, but in the long term, you’ll exert much more influence and have much more organizational impact if you have the respect of your colleagues. Respect accelerates your professional growth, your personal brand, and your career.

A recent study published in Harvard Business Review by Kristie Rogers of Marquette University, found that when it comes to the workplace, there are two major categories of respect: owed respect and earned respect.

In a healthy organization, “Owed respect is accorded equally to all members of a work group or an organization…It’s signaled by civility and an atmosphere suggesting that every member of the group is inherently valuable,” says Rogers. Whereas “earned respect recognizes individual employees who display valued qualities or behaviors. It distinguishes employees who have exceeded expectations.”

Earned respect, in other words, is inherently about distinguishing yourself from others. It’s about the habits and behaviors you display that make people sit up and take notice. Here are six habits displayed by people who earn respect at work.

1. They listen, even when it feels irrelevant.

People who are respected at work garner that respect because “they understand the value and power of relationships,” says Dr. Froswa’ Booker-Drew, author of the workbook for women “Rules of Engagement: Making Connections Last.” They listen without always having to or without having an answer, says Booker-Drew. And when they listen, they’re all in. Research supports leaving cellphones outside the meeting room to ensure you’re listening closely. A recent study linked a clear correlation between decreased cognitive abilities and the presence of a nearby cell phone—even if the phone had notifications and sounds turned off. So, turn your phones off and your ears on. Your professional reputation will thank you. 

2. They know when to practice quiet.

If you want to work in an environment of trust and respect, you need to contribute to that culture. And one of the greatest enemies of a healthy culture is backtalk.

 “As a general rule, highly respected and trusted people do not gossip in the workplace,” says Val Grub, who has held senior roles at NBC Universal and Rolls-Royce, and is now Workplace Coach at TONE Networks. “While gossip may feel like idol chitchat, it’s actually bullying dressed up as information sharing.” 

As a baseline, “If you wouldn’t say the comments to the person directly, there’s a really strong possibility you’re engaging in gossip.” 

Many leadership experts agree that gossiping is a key indicator of an unhealthy organization, because all that negativity contributes to a serious lack of trust.

 “Employee morale takes a major hit as well,” Grub says, “along with creativity and productivity. I tell my clients: if you hear gossip, shut it down. People will know they can trust you and your working life will be so much better for it.

3. They look out for others in meetings. 

People who are respected at work often garner quite a bit of political capital. But they use that capital to help others, says Jeff Skipper, a consultant who works with many Fortune 500 companies. 

“They draw others into the conversation that have been silent or don’t have the social strength to break into the discussion,” Skipper continues. “Or they strengthen another’s voice, lending instant credibility to a diverse thinker, which is often just what a team needs to break out of the box.” 

The best thinking comes from the most diverse organizations. Support diverse points of view so you don’t reinforce the echo-chamber.

4. They see mistakes as a chance to get better. 

Most respected people at work don’t kill precious time pointing fingers. When they commit a mistake, they own up to it. And if their team falters, they take collective responsibility. 

“They spend time analyzing the root of the mistake, doing the required course corrections and learning from what happened,” says Ketan Kapoor, CEO and Co-Founder of, a talent measurement firm. 

The most respected people are the ones who invest the time to become masters of their domain, and the only way to do that is to practice… a lot. Thomas Edison is reported to have once said, “I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” 

5. They hunt down solutions. 

Every organization has problems, and most do not have a lack of people eager to point them out. A great way to build respect at work is to be a solution starter, says Shefali Raina, a New York City- based Executive coach. 

“When you see a problem in your domain, collaborate with others to build a practical, workable solution, and then rally everybody and give energy to get it done,” Raina says. Getting things done by rallying others and energizing projects helps other people to see you as positive, credible and action oriented. 

6. They respect their workplace as contributing to their career journey.

Millennials switch jobs more frequently than previous generations, says Raysha Clark, a licensed therapist and career coach who specializes in clients new to the workforce. While they may see this as no problem, the employers investing big bucks in their professional development can see things differently. 

“New hires often have an amazing advantage in getting the latest and most up-to-date training in the organization,” she says. “Take the training with a sense of gratitude and find ways to use it to contribute to the greater good of your organization.” 

Even if you see this job as merely a stepping stone, bring your entire self while you’re there. Just like any relationship, it takes two. 

“Go into each position ready to be an asset, because a resume full of previous training means nothing if you don’t exercise what you’ve learned,” says Clark.

A version of this post previously appeared on Fairygodboss, the largest career community that helps women get the inside scoop on pay, corporate culture, benefits, and work flexibility. Founded in 2015, Fairygodboss offers company ratings, job listings, discussion boards, and career advice.


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