9 Women to Know
- Andrea Bear: Arts, Culture & Design
- Aleea Slappy-Wilson: Business and the Professions
- Dr. Judy Jankowski: Community Champion
- Dr. Richardean Benjamin: Education, Training & Development
- Elle Harris: Entrepreneurship & Innovation
- Mary Blunt: Health & Wellness
- Lt. Jeannette Rincorn: Military
- Dr. Allyson McNaughton: Research & the Sciences
- Nicolle Vasquez Del Favero: Woman on the Rise
Andrea has more than 30 years of experience in a wide variety of leadership positions. Her career spans several industries and organizations, including leading the development and marketing teams at The Chrysler Museum of Art and The Mariner’s Museum. She also served as Assistant Executive Director at the Norfolk Redevelopment and Housing Authority (NRHA).
Andrea fully dedicates herself to any project, organization or cause she gets involved with. Her dedication inspires those working with or for her. Andrea takes advantage of every opportunity to mentor those who seek her guidance, just as she was mentored by talented leaders who proceeded her. For Andrea, leadership has always been about helping others reach their full potential.
Aleea Slappy-Wilson is the City of Norfolk’s first-ever Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Officer. In her role, she is driving the city’s efforts to make sure that Norfolk is a city where everyone is welcomed, included and equipped for success. Aleea’s leadership, professionalism and commitment to advocacy lead her to this new role.
With all of her professional tenures, Aleea has proven time and time again to be an incredible inspiration – both personally and professionally. More specifically, as a woman of color, a consummate professional, an entrepreneur, a friend, and a wife… Aleea is an inspiration for us all and a role model
for all that meet her.
Dr. Judy Jankowski has devoted her career to the education of diverse learners. Over that time, she has worked with children whose life paths have been forged by physical, cognitive and emotional differences. Understanding and providing support for a wide range of human potential is at the heart of Dr. Jankowski’s work.
Throughout her long career, the cause of empowering young women, and particularly women in leadership, has been a priority. Dr. Jankowski has been working to demonstrate the strength of women from her earliest days as a member of only the second class of women admitted to a historically all-boys public magnet school in Chicago. She continues to break barriers as head of an independent school, a profession comprised of only 30% women.
Dr. Jankowski believes that collaboration is central to the creation of inclusive communities. Chesapeake Bay Academy is a diverse community in many ways – ethnically, racially, socioeconomically, in terms of sexual orientation/gender, physical handicaps and educational deficits. The need to bring all of these voices together in frank and respectful discourse is a value that Dr. Jankowski advocates for across the leadership team and demonstrates in our community.
Dr. Benjamin has a wealth of experience, evidenced by her educational achievements, spanning more than 40 years. When she began her career in the 1960s as a nurse in the south, she had to wear a different colored uniform from white nurses because of segregation. Through it all she persevered, dedicating her life to the service of others – regardless of differences.
With expertise in psychiatric mental health nursing and psychiatric epidemiology, Dr. Benjamin’s area of research has focused on Cultural Competency of Nurses Health Promotion of Minorities. She has practiced nursing in a variety to settings, and she has served as an administrative associate for the American Nurses Association’s Minority Fellowship Programs, in addition to her many roles at Old Dominion University.
Dr. Benjamin is soft-spoken, selfless, and humble. She chooses her words wisely and wise are her words when it comes to her lifelong dedication to making the world a better place when it comes to health care for all and eliminating the racist lines that create healthcare disparities.
Elle has been working with nonprofit organizations and the human services industry for nearly a decade. Her community service journey began with volunteer mentorship at The Up Center, reunifying families and teaching them ways to stabilize their environment so that their children could return home from foster care. Elle has also worked in many leadership roles in the mental health field. These experiences pushed Elle to found The W. Agency, Inc. – an organization dedicated to helping mental health agencies strengthen their programs and effectiveness within the populations they serve.
As Founder and Executive Director of World Wide Women Group, Elle has made tremendous efforts to change the definition of what it means to empower women. For almost seven years she has led the World Wide Women Group team through several initiatives and projects, constantly creating new ideas and remaining relevant. Elle works hard in the community because she genuinely wants every young girl she encounters to grow up feeling that she can conquer the world.
Mary received her A.S. in physical therapy in 1976 from Southern Illinois University – she was the only African American in her class. Her impressive career has spanned 41 years in the healthcare industry, starting as a physical therapist and working all the way up to Senior Corporate Vice President at Sentara Healthcare, one of the foremost healthcare systems in the country, a position she has held for the last seven years.
A dedicated volunteer and leader, Mary has committed herself to inspiring and mentoring women as well as dedicated her time and talents to higher education and nonprofit boards/councils. Mary feels a responsibility to give back. She grew up in an ALICE household (Asset Limited, Income Constrained, Employed) and as a board member of the United Way’s Women United she rolls up her sleeves and participates in United Way’s Day of Action, Day of Caring and Stone Soup volunteer events.
Mary’s efforts to invest in women are not just about contributing financial resources, but bringing the talents and physical energy women have to find and fund solutions around the issues at-risk women face. For her, it’s not just about one organization’s mission – it’s about collectively eliminating barriers for all women.
United States Coast Guard Lieutenant Jeannette Rincon currently serves as the Communications Command Operations Department Head. Her role allows her to offer a wide variety of telecommunications services to support the fleet, shore commanders, and other government agencies. Essentially, when people are in need of help and rescue, the unit she oversees helps provide the communication means to facilitate the response.
Jeannette is not just a champion for her community, she is also a champion for girls specifically. She is currently a Girl Scout troop leader and helps lead 18 girls in weekly activities to deliver the Girl Scout Leadership Experience. She works hard to introduce girls to nontraditional careers and shows girls that they can!
During the last government shutdown, Jeannette partnered with local business to coordinate and facilitate food and assistance drives benefiting those affected by the shutdown. Volunteering at a local food pantry, she distributed necessary items such as household, food, baby and pet items to over 100 families in need.
Dr. McNaughton is a Veterinarian at the Virginia Aquarium & Marine Science Center. Prior to joining the aquarium team, Dr. McNaughton participated in an Aquatic Animal Medicine and Research Internship with Mystic Aquarium in Connecticut. She has served as a peer reviewer for many academic journals, and as the lead veterinarian on field work including marine mammal tagging projects in partnership with the Stranding Response Program and U.S. Navy. Additionally, Dr. McNaughton has worked aboard the OCEARCH research vessel on multiple shark tagging expeditions.
She serves as a mentor and role model for vet students, providing them the opportunity to shadow her and learn more about the field. Dr. McNaughton works to inspire others through lectures at veterinary conferences and informal opportunities with local vet clubs. She has also served as a reviewer for the Association of Zoos & Aquariums Conservation Grants Fund.
Recognizing the value in everyone’s contribution, Dr. McNaughton is constantly looking for opportunities to help grow her team and their abilities.
Nicolle works as an attorney specializing in government acquisitions for Naval Facilities Command Atlantic under the Department of the Navy. Prior to this role, Nicolle represented survivors of domestic violence in restraining order, divorce and custody hearings.
She spends the majority of her time outside of work and family life giving back
to the community through organizations like Junior League of Norfolk-Virginia Beach. Nicolle also contributes her extensive knowledge in the domestic violence area to the YWCA as a crisis response volunteer.