Author: Victoria Cohen

Next Generation of Women 2022

It’s no secret that navigating your career and personal life as a young female professional poses certain challenges. Several women from our internal team recently attended Engage! Cleveland’s Next Generation of Women, a forum tailored to the emerging female professional in Cleveland.

From career advice, leadership strategies, and anecdotes of overcoming challenges and adversity, we were inspired hearing from the women who are making history, and paving the way for future female leaders, right here in Cleveland! The forum featured workshops as well as panels of highly distinguished female leaders discussing how they’ve navigated their career as a young female professional, and how they got to where they are today.

Below are our favorite highlights from the event:


“Early in my career I remember going to sports marketing meetings where all 30 of the NBA teams would convene. Out of 200 to 300 people, there were only five women at these meetings representing leadership in sales and marketing across the entire league. There was quite a gender bias.” explained Shelly Cayette on navigating unequal gender representation in her professional career. Shelly continued, “How to navigate gender bias is by inserting yourself where you think you should be, despite what your title is.”


When asked one piece of advice Shelly Cayette would give to her younger self in her career, she said “One thing I would say from an advice perspective is you have to be confident now. I wish I had exuded more confidence then, than I do now. I broke every barrier of metric and number – being top 5 in the NBA and being top everything, in order for me to feel confident and to own my place in the office. We are women, we do that. We have to do it at the top perfection and level. I would just encourage you to be confident now.


When asked about the most significant barrier to female leadership, Dr. Carol Cunningham stated “There are a few barriers and a lot of them are internal. You have the power to be whoever you want to be and pursue whatever your dreams are. I give a lot of credit to my dad. My dad never taught me that there was anything inferior about being a woman or being a person of color. I didn’t grow up thinking I was supposed to take an inferior role and I never did that.”


When asked about navigating the loneliness that can come along with entrepreneurship, Emily Roggenburk stated “Meeting with other people who are in similar fields where we vent and empathize with each other really helps. It can be very isolating and lonely, so having a really good support system is important.”

Panel 1: Building Blocks and Breaking Barriers

Shelly Cayette – Executive VP, CCO, Cleveland Cavaliers

Dr. Carol Cunninghame – State Medical Director, Ohio Department of Public Safety, Division of EMS

Kathleen Szczesniak – Senior VP, North America Operations, Global Supply Chain, The Sherwin-Williams Company 


Panel 2: Women Rising

Natalie Bata – Owner, Cocky’s Bagels

Jazmin Long – President & Ceo, Birthing Beautiful Communities

Emily Roggenburk – Founder & Chief Designer, Emily Roggenburk Studios

State Rep. Bride Rose Sweeney – Ohio House of Representatives 

Staffing Solutions Enterprises is a proud sponsor of Engage! Cleveland’s Next Generation of Women 

Check out our TikTok Recap of the Event here

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