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The 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit Advisory Board. Graphic: Mónica Hernández/AL DÍA News.
The 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit Advisory Board. Graphic: Mónica Hernández/AL DÍA News.

Meet the Advisory Board for the 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit

A group of six esteemed, prominent and influential women comprises this year’s advisory board, tasked with selecting the 2023 Women of Merit honorees.

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AL DÍA is excited to bring back its annual Women of Merit Forum & Reception event next month.

The annual event serves as the premier celebration of diverse and multicultural women in leadership roles across our region. 

Over a month-plus period, the general public had the opportunity to nominate women who fit the mold as prominent “new faces emerging in positions of leadership representing our changing demographics.”

While the final selections are being deliberated upon, AL DÍA is happy to announce the women who will be tasked with selecting this year’s honorees, as the 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit Advisory Board. 

Raquel Arredondo - CHAIR

Raquel Arredondo is the Assistant Dean for Diversity, Equity & Inclusion at the University of Pennsylvania’s Graduate School of Education.

In her role, she drives school-wide DE&I initiatives and strategies to promote an inclusive learning and workplace environment. She is in charge of creating and driving the best practices among DE&I policies and procedures, implementing training and development to enhance cultural competencies and increasing the global mindset for students, faculty, and staff. 

She has vast experience in consulting, human resources and higher education and transitioned into corporate human resources as a training consultant and was later appointed to establish and lead university relations recruitment. 

Arredondo earned her bachelor’s degree in psychology from George Mason University, before going on to obtain her master’s degree in student personnel services at Rowan University. 

The Chair of this year’s Advisory Board, Arredondo is no stranger to the AL DÍA Women of Merit celebration.

Just last year, Arredondo was named one of the AL DÍA Women of Merit in the education category for her work in driving the DE&I efforts throughout her career.

Marcia Zaruba O’Connor

Marcia Zaruba O’Connor is the Founder and CEO of The O’Connor Group.

The O'Connor Group is a firm that offers human resources and talent acquisition services to clients with a more focused penchant for those in the life sciences, professional services, manufacturing and information technology industries.

With over 20 years of experience in all aspects of talent acquisition, professional search and human resource outsourcing, Zaruba O’Connor has led the O’Connor Group to becoming one of the fastest-growing companies in the region. 

O’Connor is a graduate of Widener University, where she earned a degree in accounting before going on to obtain her master’s degree in human organizational development from Villanova University. 

Cynthia Estremera Gauthier

Dr. Cynthia Estremera Gauthier is the Director of Racial Equity and Engagement at Strategy Arts.

In her role, Dr. Gauthier is responsible for leading the Equitable Community Engagement service area of the firm. Her focus is on strategies of inclusivity and advocacy that empower diverse individuals of color and women who are historically marginalized and financially insecure. 

Each day, she brings her experience as an educator, humanist, expert facilitator, and equity practitioner to the job. Dr. Gauthier has presented at various local and national conferences to share her expertise on how nonprofit and government agencies should equitably engage historically marginalized communities and how to cultivate meaningful systems change through individuals. 

Dr. Gauthier earned her bachelor’s degree in English, American Studies and Theater from Penn State. She then went on to obtain her master’s degree in English Language and Literature from Villanova University, and more recently earned her Doctor of Philosophy in English, Africana Studies & Hip Hop Culture from Lehigh University. 

Sheila Alexander-Reid

Shiela Alexander-Reid is the executive director of PHL Diversity.

In the role, she leads implementation and strategy to develop and synergize relationships with industry and government stakeholders across Philadelphia’s diverse community. She also leads PHL Diversity with the goal of advancing opportunities for growth of local businesses as a result of increased event and visitation to the city, further quantifying Philadelphia as an inclusive, welcoming destination for meetings and conventions.

Alexander-Reid’s role plays into her decades of leadership experience in diversity, equity and inclusion and distinction as a champion for marginalized communities. 

She is also an entrepreneur. Alexander-Reid is the founder of Branding4Change, a boutique branding and training agency focused on DEI; and Women in the Life, a social justice nonprofit that creates safe spaces and social gatherings for lesbians of color.

Alexander-Reid is a graduate of Stanford University, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in English Language and Literature and Mass Communications. 

Meredith Veloz

Meredith Veloz is the Duopoly Executive Producer for NBC10 & Telemundo 62. 

While her work these days is generally behind the scenes, Veloz is highly experienced on both sides of the camera. She has worked more than a decade-and-a-half as a producer, anchor and reporter for various networks throughout her career. 

Veloz earned her bachelor’s degree in communications from Loyola University New Orleans, and in broadcast journalism and political science from American University. 

Cynthia Weiss

Cynthia Weiss is the executive director of the Philly Ad Club, the region’s most inclusive membership organization representing the marketing, communications and creative . 

A constant beacon of leadership in the Philadelphia sports media landscape for more than two decades, Weiss joined the Philly Ad Club at the tail end of 2021 after more than two decades with NBC Sports Philadephia. During her role as vice president of marketing, she was a central figure in unifying Philadelphia’s professional and collegiate sports organizations under an integrated marketing strategy. 

Throughout her career, Weiss has tirelessly executed award-winning marketing campaigns across the Philadelphia market. 

Weiss is a graduate of Ithaca College, where she earned her bachelor’s degree in sports management. 

Twelve women will be honored this year across seven different categories. There will be two honorees selected in the categories of Corporate, Education, Entrepreneurship, Non-Profit, and Public Service; one Emerging Leader Award recipient; and one woman will earn the distinction of being the 2023 Lifetime Achievement Award recipient. 

This year’s AL DÍA Women of Merit honorees — as selected by our esteemed advisory board — will be officially announced in the coming days. Stay tuned! 

The 2023 AL DÍA Women of Merit Forum & Reception will take place Friday, May 19, 2023, at Franklin’s View. For more information or to purchase tickets to attend the premier celebration of multicultural women leaders, click here

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