The Coro Women in Leadership (WIL) program is a 10-month, part-time training program that provides women the opportunity to refine their personal and professional leadership competencies, and connect with other women from diverse backgrounds. Gender-specific workforce issues are discussed.

Graduates of the program gain improved leadership effectiveness to apply to their personal and professional lives, an enhanced ability to network within the community, and the access to resources to produce results. Begins October 2017.

By participating in Women in Leadership, you will:

  • Get to know others who are passionate about improving the status of women
  • Explore challenges and opportunities facing women in Western Pennsylvania
  • Receive mentorship while taking action to improve the status of women
  • Learn to build strong teams by leveraging people’s strengths
  • Hone your skills in group facilitation
  • Learn negotiation skills

Women in Leadership is the only experiential leadership program in Southwestern Pennsylvania devoted specifically to women. Participants are early and mid-career professionals from different sectors who are interested in civic engagement and motivated to strive toward the full inclusion of women in business, politics, government, arts, education, philanthropy and community organizing. Participants join a cohort who learn together to clarify their values, lead with authenticity, and integrate their lives at work, at home and in their community, while drawing support from a network of people dedicated to creating positive change for women in the region. The program utilizes the following training principles:

  1. Emphasis on inquiry and experiential learning
  2. Expose participants to public, private, and civic sectors
  3. Use the community as a classroom
  4. Provide opportunities for participants to assess leadership competencies and develop strategies for improvement
  5. Value the critical role of diversity and inclusion in leadership training

The Status of Women in the Region

The gender wage gap is one reason to take action.  Gianina Marquez Olivera (Coro Fellow ’14) wrote an op-ed for the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette,  “The most livable city for whom?”. Consider this article – and your own experience – when applying or nominating for Women in Leadership.



Andrea Barber
Owner, My Three Sons Vending Company
“My leadership experience is all volunteer based through the Office of Child Development and The Kingsley Association. I am currently the Vice President of East Liberty Family Support. Through The Office of Child Development, I have attended various leadership training sessions and classes. I was also a program facilitator for one of the parent leadership cohorts. What excites me most about the Women in Leadership Cohort is the meeting all the wonderful women and professionals in various industries. After I complete the program I would like to be more confident in myself and also have the ability to lead my business and community into a positive and successful direction.”


Jenise Brown
Project Manager, SWCA Environmental Consultants
“I am a professional ecologist with an environmental consulting firm, where I manage the environmental compliance and data analysis for a large regional energy project. I am passionate about the dissemination and real-world application of science, and have led collaborative science efforts in academic and corporate settings for the past nine years. I have published original research in three major peer-reviewed journals, including Nature, and led a team of researchers and students in a multi-year project across three universities. I plan to continue to emphasize high quality science in my career, with an increasing focus on ensuring that results are accessible and understandable to everyone, by contributing to science education and supporting the writing of primary research for a broader audience. I have several aspirations for the program year including expanding my current skillset to be a better negotiator, networker, and overall leader; to create a network of women who have different experiences and skills than my own to learn from and lean on; and to find ways to use my talents and energy to fix problems facing women in Western Pennsylvania. In the short term I hope to be exposed to and support organizations that are aligned with my values that are outside of my traditional workplace. Over the next few years, I hope to use the skills and relationships that are created during the program to move from the private sector into a leadership position in a non-profit organization. My long term aspiration is to become a US Senator for Pennsylvania to bring a female scientist voice to the conversation.”


Vanessa Garcia
Pittsburgh Westinghouse Academy Community School Site Director, Homewood Children’s Village
“I’m excited to be part of a long standing commitment to empower women in this city through personal and professional development. And being a part of this cohort I will get to add my experience to that story! I’m also glad that I have the opportunity to take part in something bigger than just the present, especially as my daughter is coming up in this world as a strong woman. I hope to gain more self confidence in my abilities and skills to be a female leader. And I hope to gain a new network of other female leaders that I can learn from and lean on for support. After I complete the program I want to be fully using the skills that I’ve learned in my actual workplace and I want to be involved in pushing whatever project my team created forward. I want to be at a much better place than where I started.”


Victoria Gibilterra
IT Leadership Development Professional, Aetna
“I am a cyber security engineer, currently in the IT Leadership Development Program at Aetna. I have developed and lead diverse teams, driving successful completion of enterprise initiatives, and developing innovative approaches to enterprise risk management. What excites me most about Women in Leadership is the chance to really develop my leadership skills while growing a strong network of like-minded leaders in Pittsburgh. I hope to gain more experience in motivating and inspiring those around me in and outside of leadership roles. I also hope to gain the opportunity to find ways to give back to the community here in Pittsburgh. After I complete the Women in Leadership Program, I hope to be connected to some nonprofit or community service initiatives and use my leadership skills to make an impact with giving back to this community. I also hope to have graduated my IT Leadership Program I am in at work with a promotion to take on another initiative at Aetna. Long term, I hope to be in a position to empower and inspire those around me to create a more secure and healthy world.”


Kelsey Gross
Child Nutrition Outreach Coordinator, Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank
“As a Child Nutrition Outreach Coordinator with Greater Pittsburgh Community Food Bank, I’ve spent the last five years working with partners to lead our school breakfast and summer food efforts in Somerset, Cambria, and Indiana counties. This past year, my major projects included identifying the needs and available community resources in Cambria County. Using this, I brought three organizations together to provide free meals to underserved kids in six communities. In college, I won a Women’s Leadership award and “Chacivity” award for my work as co-president of Women’s Studies Club. I’m most excited to learn the skills and gain the confidence to be a strong and thoughtful voice for change. I hope to bring those skills back to my current position to help lead highly-motivated partners to end child hunger in our region. I’m thankful for the opportunity to learn and grow with all of the women of our diverse cohort and build strong, lasting relationships. Long term, I hope to move into a management position, and I believe the skills l that I learn in Women in Leadership will help me be better prepared to handle that responsibility. Short-term, I would like to gain more confidence in my abilities and connect with other women in the cohort.


Carly Hicks
Patient Experience Manager, Allegheny Health Network
“In all areas of my life, I aspire to be a leader. As a project manager at a pediatric healthcare organization, I am regularly looking for ways to implement positive initiatives that enhance the organization’s services. In addition, I work part-time with children ages seven to thirteen as a swim coach where I spend time building relationships, leading by example, and helping mentor them as athletes. Outside of work, I volunteer as a Big Sister in the Big Brother Big Sister program of Greater Pittsburgh and have established a friendship with an incredible Little that reminds me the importance of positive leaders, role models and mentors in Pittsburgh. Throughout my full time, part time and volunteering efforts, I learn and utilize leadership skills that can be transferred cross-functionally and add value to new initiatives I take on. As a young professional working in the Pittsburgh area, I am continually searching for ways to be more connected and to grow the strength of the Pittsburgh community. Coro WIL provides a space to educate and grow women in the community – an important part of my passion and identity. I have had numerous strong leaders in my life, but those with the most impact have been women. I hope to develop my thoughts, ideas, and perceptions of leadership throughout this program so I can inspire and lead others through similar ways that I have been impacted. My goals for Coro WIL are to expand my Pittsburgh network personally and professionally, and find new ways to support the growth of women in Pittsburgh. Long-term, I will share my knowledge with the next generation of women, supporting the growth of all individuals to become their true selves. I want to provide a safe space for individuals to reach their potential and the best version of themselves.”


Emily Kinkead
Law Clerk, Commonwealth Court of Pennsylvania, Chambers of Judge Michael Wojcik
“I was heavily involved in student groups in college. In particular as campus coordinator for an organization called Democracy Matters that focuses on engaging young people in fighting for government ethics reform – specifically campaign finance reform. My work with that group led me to serve as a member of Democracy Matters’ Board of Directors from 2009-2016. While working in Washington, DC, I was actively involved in the Women’s Information Network (WIN), which facilitates professional networking and skill-building for women. When I moved back to Pittsburgh for law school, I again dedicated myself heavily to working in student groups – serving on the executive boards of 4, including a student-run 501(c)(3) that raised money to provide grants for law students who accepted unpaid, public interest summer internships. Having been born in Pittsburgh, the black and gold is in my blood but I want to find more ways to be active in and serve my community and the CORO WIL program demonstrates year after year its commitment to help the cohort do just that. Even more, I am excited to develop friendships and deep bonds with the other amazing women in my cohort. There’s nothing better than women helping women and I look forward to learning from these incredible ladies as well as helping them in whatever way I can. In the short-term, I want to have a stronger network and some long-term friendships arising out of my time with my WIL cohort. In the long-term, I want to find a place to deeply serve my community and give back to a city that has given me so much. I want to use my connections and what I learn from WIL to become a more active citizen. I want to use my connections to further my career so that I can be in a position to help the people who come up behind me to succeed in their goals as well.”


Traci Johnson
Communications and Digital Media Manager, Denny Civic Solutions
As a professional I have spent over 10 years in nonprofit leadership from program director to executive director. Now, I currently work in the for-profit environment as the Communications and Digital Media Manager for my consulting firm. As a volunteer, I have held many leadership roles in my local church: Youth Department Chair, Community Outreach Director, Christian Education Director, and Board member. I also serve as a Squad Moderator in the Ellevate Women’s Network. I have always possessed a passion for issues that impact women and building the status of women that I encounter. I believe Women in Leadership will provide opportunities and avenues for me to explore issues that impact women in our region in greater depth and generate creative solutions to complex problems with a group of like-minded women. Through this program I hope to grow as a professional leader developing new skills and tactics that can be utilized in any situation – whether the on the job or in my neighborhood. I hope this program will challenge me to become an authentic leader both personally and professionally. I believe Women in Leadership will enable me to challenge myself in ways that will empower me to become a greater help, support, and mentor to other women in our region and beyond. I have a passion for civic and community engagement. I want to utilize the skills that I learn from the program and exercise them towards becoming more civically engaged in the region. My plan is to apply to and attend graduate school to further my education and journey to eventually working in community development.


Dominique Luster
Teenie Harris Archivist, Carnegie Museum of Art
“I am the Teenie Harris Archivist at the Carnegie Museum of Art. The Teenie Harris Archive consists of almost 80,000 images dating from the 1930’s to the 1970’s, documenting what might be one of the most complete insights into African American urban life at that time. In this role, I am responsible for the archival integrity, access, and use of the image negatives and their corresponding digital surrogates; increasing and improving the discoverability and accessibility of collection; developing comprehensive metadata profiles; and providing curatorial and exhibition administration for shows presented both inside the Carnegie Museum and across the country. The most exciting part about the Women in Leadership program is the opportunity to bring real-world work situations into the program session and get actionable advice and strategies on how to be a better leader. A situation could occur at work on Thursday, and I have the opportunity to discuss this situation with my cohort on Saturday, so that when I return to work on Monday, I have thoughtful, actionable, strategic next steps that I can immediately implement. At the conclusion of this program, I hope to be in a position to negotiate for greater leadership responsibilities with my current employer, to include financial management, project management, and staff management.”


Alannah Owens
Personal Lines Intern, Henderson Brothers, Inc.
“I am currently a student at Point Park University, but I have several leadership experiences throughout my college experience. I am a leader for several clubs on campus as well as an orientation leader. I am also a volunteer for the Red Cross and I help out frequently at my local church with areas around the church as well as creating an annual event for youth. I am apart of Women In Leadership as well. Being in a room full of women is what excites me most about the program. Women are strong, intuitive, motivational beings and it is always a pleasure hearing stories from different women about their experiences and how they are overcoming or how they need help and it is encouraging to be able to provide that help to another woman. I hope to gain a bond with the women in the cohort as well as more knowledge and perspectives from other women. I am going to be a recent college graduate when completing the program so I hope to have a job and I hope that I am able to continue to influence women or I am working with women in some aspect. My long-term goal is to continue to impact women’s lives and retire by 35.”


Grace Elizabeth Oxley
Program Coordinator, Homewood Children’s Village
“I am currently a Program Coordinator in the Education department at the Homewood Children’s Village. I’ve spent the last three years working in both Pittsburgh and abroad advocating for youth and equity in education. My work consists of supporting, and providing services, education support, and employment opportunities to students and families in the Homewood community. I’ve also volunteered with the JFCS Refugee Volunteer program. Working with newly resettled families reminded me of the importance of building relationships, mentorship and actively being involved in the local community. I am currently a Program Coordinator in the Education department at the Homewood Children’s Village. I’ve spent the last three years working in both Pittsburgh and abroad advocating for youth and equity in education. My work consists of supporting, and providing services, education support, and employment opportunities to students and families in the Homewood community. I’ve also volunteered with the JFCS Refugee Volunteer program. Working with newly resettled families reminded me of the importance of building relationships, mentorship and actively being involved in the local community. At the end of the program, my goal is to be more inspired, more confident and better positioned to be able to elevate the voices of the next generation. I plan to maximize my impact at my current organization by leveraging the unique perspectives and tools gained from this experience. One of my long-term goals includes going to graduate school and continuing to pour into the lives of others in our community. ”


Angel Pappalardo
Operations Director, University of Pittsburgh
“I have worked at the University of Pittsburgh for the past 10 years and I currently manage the operations of our HIV/AIDS clinical research program in Pitt’s Department of Medicine. We conduct studies focused on improving HIV treatment therapy, prevention, and cure research. I primarily oversee the financials of our research program, develop budgets, assist with grant writing and proposal development, manage project staff, and ensure stewardship of funds. I also am a new member of the University’s Staff Council and a member of the Executive Committee for the Hispanic Latino Professional Association at Pitt. I graduated from the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs (GSPIA) with a Master’s in Public Administration in 2013. This is a wonderful opportunity for me to meet and engage with other women in the city who are working across various sectors and have work and personal experiences different from my own. I want to learn about the work that others are doing in the city of Pittsburgh, share our struggles and ideas so we can forge new partnerships to make a better future in our region. I want to feel inspired and empowered by the leadership of these women and I hope to carry that with me after this program. In the short term, I would like to improve my communication skills and feel more comfortable speaking in a group setting or presenting to a group of people. I would also like to use my experience to mentor and coach others. I would ultimately like to broaden my perspectives about the opportunities for women in leadership in the city of Pittsburgh and have a better understanding of the kind of opportunities available for career growth as well as other community development and volunteer opportunities that align with my personal interests and passion.”


Stephanie Rideau
Director, Global Head of Risk Capital Adequacy, BNY Mellon
“I have been a driven, servant leader who is focused on achieving results in many facets of my life. In high school, I was the leader of the business management team for the Yearbook Committee. It was the first time the budget had been met in years. In college, I was a leader in my sorority and planned programs. In my first job after college, I was a team leader amongst my peers. I had brought a different perspective and worked with a team to create a vision for our cluster. I was then promoted to a leadership role where I led a sales team of fourteen representatives spanning north and southwestern PA. In grad school, I served on the Graduate Business Association was the president of the Flextime Leadership Team. There, I led a committee who was instrumental in driving student-focused initiatives for part-time students. In my job after grad school, I was in the leadership development program where I had the opportunity to lead several strategic projects. In the churches that I attended, I had the opportunity to serve as a leader for several administrative initiatives. I am thrilled about the opportunity to network with and learn from other women with diverse perspectives and who have experiences that differ from mine! I look to grow, be challenged, and supported by the Women in Leadership program. I hope to gain a new perspective that will enhance my leadership journey and augment my confidence. At the end of the program, I want to be re-energized with enhanced confidence to increase my leadership impact. Ultimately, my goal is to become a more influential and effective leader that uses an array of tools to create a high-performance environment that drives connection, results, and innovation.”


Christin Thorpe
Fellows and Community Engagement Coordinator, Pittsburgh Theological Seminary
“I am currently the Fellows and Community Engagement Coordinator for the Pittsburgh Theological Seminary’s Metro-Urban Institute. In this capacity, I am responsible for leading the development of our organization’s new Fellowship program as well as the fellowship cohort itself. I am also the Outreach Servant Leader at the Northside Institutional Church where I am tasked with developing and leading our community outreach initiatives. In both capacities I am responsible for developing new and innovative ideas and creating buy-in amongst diverse stakeholders who are often older and more experienced than I. As a young woman, I am excited about learning the skills and tools necessary to assert myself as a leader in the male-dominated faith sector. I hope to gain the confidence to lead those who may be older and or more experienced with boldness. Following the completion of this program, I hope to have the confidence to assert myself in all areas of my life. Specifically, my short-term goal is to be able to advocate for myself and properly leverage my skills and education to ensure I am able to acquire positions that allow me to utilize my leadership abilities to positively impact communities.”


Catherine Tsavalas
Program Coordinator, AlphaLab
“Over the years, I’ve helped organize several Startup Weekends, bringing together Pittsburgh’s entrepreneurs for a weekend of networking, mentorship, and competition. Through AlphaLab and other organizations, I’ve continued to mentor early-stage entrepreneurs, with a focus on supporting women-led ventures. I’m excited to take this opportunity to learn, reflect, and grow. My ultimate goal for the Women in Leadership program is to meet incredible women, work and grow together as a group, and maintain those strong ties after the program to help us progress in our careers and advance women in our region together. I hope to have noticeably increased my leadership, negotiation, and facilitation skills and have come away with tangible knowledge I can pass on to other women in these areas. As a result, I’d like to be in a position for greater career growth, as well as create way to build and strengthen women entrepreneurial communities within Pittsburgh and challenge the inequality many of us face.”


Not pictured: Sierra Parm.


During her first term as a Wilkinsburg Borough Councilperson, Marita Garrett has started “Wilkinsburg Community Conversations”, an initiative to connect and empower residents to work together for neighborhood improvement, co-founded the Free Store Wilkinsburg – where donations of new and slightly used material goods are available to residents and families, and was elected Vice-President of Council, where she serves as Chair of the Borough’s Social Media & Promotions Committee and sits on the Capital Planning & Public Safety Committees.

Ms. Garrett is the co-owner and managing partner of Admintrinsic, which provides a wide range of outreach and engagement services to small businesses, non-profits, and mid-level corporations. She has successfully coordinated small business educational events, 2016 Vacant Home Tour with the Wilkinsburg Community Development Corporation (WCDC), consulted on a research study at Carnegie Mellon University among other outreach programming. Currently, she also serves as the Program Trainer for Coro Pittsburgh’s Women in Leadership, 2016-2017 Cohort.

Building on her mission of promoting women empowerment, Marita is also the co-host of Shattered Glass Podcast, where stories of extraordinary women shattering the glass ceiling are highlighted.

Ms. Garrett received a Bachelor’s in Psychology from the University of Pittsburgh where she was employed as outreach coordinator for the Alzheimer’s Disease Research Center for 7 years – starting there as a senior intern. She continued in Psychology receiving a Master’s from Chatham University and has been a panel speaker on several occasions for the Center for Women and Politics.  She has been recognized for her diligence in civic and community engagement by numerous organizations and media outlets such as the University of Pittsburgh African American Alumni Council, Pittsburgh Magazine’s 40 Under 40, City Paper, the Southwestern PA United Way eXchange series, and most recently The Incline’s “Who’s Next in Politics”.

Currently, she serves as Chair of the Congress of Neighboring Communities (CONNECT) as well as on the advisory boards for Allegheny Regional Asset District (RAD) Advisory Board and National Leaders Council – Pittsburgh chapter.

Most recently, Councilwoman Garrett won the primary election in the Wilkinsburg Mayoral race.


WIL XXI Leadership Institute:


Tuesday, October 10, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, October 21, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesday, October 31, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, November 18, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesday, November 28, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, December 9, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesday, December 19, 5:30pm – 9:00pm


Saturday, January 6, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesday, January 16, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, February 3, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesday, February 13, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, March 3, 10:00am – 4:00pm

Tuesday, March 13, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Saturday, March 31, 10:00am – 4:00pm


WIL XXI: Monthly Collaboration Days


Tuesday, April 24, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Tuesday, May 22, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Tuesday, June 26, 5:30pm – 9:00pm

Tuesday, July 24, 5:30pm – 9:00pm (Graduation)


“I gained invaluable knowledge through WIL surrounding gender equity, leadership, collaboration, and civic engagement. WIL brought to light the importance of gender equity and how we, as women, cannot achieve it without working together, raising awareness and getting everyone involved, and aiding and promoting other women in their path to leadership. I also had the opportunity to learn about the amazing women in my cohort, their strength, their leadership skills, and their passion. I look forward to following their bright futures.” Christina Ascension Farmartino

“During the Women in Leadership course, I ran for the New Kensington-Arnold school board and won. It means a lot to me to be able to represent my community and fight for a better education. As a participant in the program, I have learned how to best use my leadership style to empower others. I can identify opportunities within myself and my community and I have been able to make change. I have also been able to make connections with like-minded women. Having a support system of women to encourage and uplift me has been invaluable.” Ellyse Williams

“I joined Women in Leadership to meet inspiring women in SW PA, and the women I met surpassed my expectations. The most significant way I changed during my time in WIL is that my network expanded exponentially, and I found fellowship with ambitious and successful women. WIL improved my project management skills, helped me identify my strengths, showed me how to use these strengths in my work, and taught me how to make a really great agenda (I ended up liking OARRs).”

Jessica Kaminsky “Women in Leadership is an incredible joining of learning and doing. Our cohort was challenged to employ our diverse skills and perspectives to create change for ourselves and other women in southwestern Pennsylvania. During the projects, we were able to foster growth in each other as collaborators, leaders, and change agents. I was incredibly inspired by the amazing women that I was able to meet and work with.”

Natalie Torti I have grown exponentially as a leader over the past year in Women in Leadership. At the beginning of the year I switched from the non-profit sector to the private sector by accepting a position with BNYMellon as a Corporate Social Responsibility Analyst. I have grown in my role at BNYMellon and has begun to seek more opportunity for growth and development within the company. Since joining WIL I have also grown as a food blogger, recently launching a self-hosted website.”

Samantha Hartzman I now take the leadership, communication and management skills that I learned at WIL to establish international relationships for Airviz. Through WIL’s use of OARRS, I learned how to clearly articulate values and vision in order to engage and excite people. This has been especially useful in marketing Airviz and rallying a group of air quality activists to use the Speck Sensor. I have also significantly broadened my social and professional network through our catalytic project and Coro networking events.”


The cost of participating in Women in Leadership is $1,925 per participant. Scholarships are available based on need. If you are interested in supporting Women in Leadership participants and programming, please visit our website: Support Women in Leadership


CLICK HERE  for the Women in Leadership XXII Application. Please send a copy of your Resume and Essay Requirements in PDF form to Marita Garrett – Deadline to apply is 10/1/2018.


Click Here to nominate someone to Women in Leadership today!


If you have any questions, please reach out to Marita Garrett at


By sponsoring an employee’s participation in WIL (in part or in whole), your organization can benefit from the personal and professional development that they will gain from the experience. CLICK HERE TO SPONSOR


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