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Visibility, More Than Just Representation

Visibility, More Than Just Representation

Being a woman in telecom and tech is challenging: women are often not visible and not heard, and there are still so few of us here. That’s why Verizon started an initiative with Ellevate Network to bring together Women In Tech & Telecom and create a community of women who can support and promote each other.

Earlier this week, Ellevate and Verizon kicked off our 2020 series with an event focused on Visibility at the National Museum of Women in the Arts. We noticed that while we were surrounded by beautiful artwork, many of us didn't recognize the female artists. This observation went to the very heart of our discussion – it's one thing to be represented; it's something more to be Visible.

Being Visible means being seen and heard, having a seat at the table and being able to contribute in a meaningful way. Our dynamic panelists truly embody the power of women telling their stories – and other’s stories – in a way that drives positive change.

Melinda Kramer, founder of Women’s Earth Alliance, focused on the special connection that women have to the health of our planet. She pointed out that while women are affected by environmental issues disproportionately to men because of their role in the provision of food and water, the climate movement is mostly led by men. She works to help women tell their stories and believes we need to carve out spaces for women to be more active and visible.

Brenda Arredondo is a disability rights advocate and director at The Raben Group. While for years she advocated for others, one day she had an epiphany – why not me? Now she works to make visible the experience of being a woman with a disability. She also noted the importance of finding male allies to support our growth.

Crystal Carpenter is the Community Assessment and Engagement Manager at The Campaign for the Fair Sentencing of Youth. She educates others on the harsh realities faced by formerly incarcerated people and their families and talked about the importance of having a community and allies that empower you. She also encouraged us to be more transparent with each other so that we don’t feel isolated. She emphasized the importance of controlling your narrative versus simply telling your story.

Lori Bongiorno, general manager of Yahoo News, Lifestyle, Entertainment, and MAKERS, manages brands that tell the stories of bold women. Through MAKERS in particular, she’s helped share the stories of over 450 remarkable women, accelerating the women's movement through stories of real life experiences that ignite passion and action. We discussed the need to tap into our individual power and not let the stories we tell ourselves, our self-doubt, become self-fulfilling prophecies that hold us back.

The goal of our event series is to spark that supportive environment that lifts us all up, individually and collectively. We can’t just put women in power: we have to empower them – we have to help each other shine.

I think there is something especially powerful about a new decade, and I’m so excited for this one. I look forward to being part of an incredible community of women who help each other become more Visible and who will make the next year and decade transformative


Kathleen (Kathy) Grillo is Verizon’s Senior Vice President of Public Policy and Government Affairs. She leads all of Verizon’s federal and state public policy, legislative, and regulatory affairs work. She is responsible for the company’s public policy positions on a wide range of issues including 5G deployment, spectrum, and privacy. Kathy represents the company before Congress, the Federal Communications Commission and other federal agencies, and state governments. She is also Vice Chair of the Board of Directors of USTelecom – The Broadband Association.

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Radesha (Desh) Dixon

Great article.

February 12, 2020

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