How often do you find yourself in a candlelit ballroom surrounded by the San Francisco Bay Area’s most outstanding, influential, inspiring businesswomen?
While it’s not an everyday occurrence, that’s exactly what attendees experienced on Tuesday, June 5 at the Hilton Union Square San Francisco, as the San Francisco Business Times recognized 130 of the Bay Area’s Most Influential Women in Business at a spectacular dinner awards gala. Women from across industries came together to share their wisdom on leadership, community service, mentorship and the power women have to change the world.
To earn a coveted spot on the list, local women leaders are evaluated based on their influence in their industries as well as in their communities. Visa was proud to be front and center (with a very vocal cheering section!) to celebrate three of our own exceptional women leaders receiving this honor: Chief Diversity Officer and Chief Counsel Employment and Corporate Social Responsibility Jolen Anderson, Senior Director of Global Government Relations Adama Iwu, and Board Member Mary Cranston. It’s not hard to see why these extraordinary women were honored.
Jolen Anderson has been a member of the Visa family since 2005. After holding a variety of critical roles in our legal department and demonstrating a commitment and passion for diversity and inclusion, Jolen became Visa’s first Chief Diversity Officer in 2013. From guiding the implementation of Visa’s unconscious bias employee training to supporting Visa’s Employee Resource Groups to spearheading impactful initiatives within the company (like Equal Pay and Marriage Equality), Jolen champions Visa’s stance on diversity and inclusion in everything she does. And that’s not all! Jolen also serves as a member of the Charles Houston Bar Association, Black Women Lawyers Association, and various other counsels.
Adama Iwu has served as Senior Director of Global Government Relations for Visa since January 2015. She is responsible for advancing Visa’s technology and business policy issues, which include cyber security, data security, virtual currencies, data breach and privacy, as well as engaging on general business issues such as labor and taxation. She also manages Visa’s relationships with technology and industry trade associations while collaborating with industry leaders and policy makers to advance smart policy objectives and drive Visa’s state level efforts on payments issues. Notably, Adama is an activist, lobbyist, and one of the founders of the We Said Enough group that has called attention to sexual misconduct in state politics. She was one of five women recognized as a Silence Breaker on the cover of TIME Magazine’s 2017 “People of the Year” issue. Today, Adama serves as President of the Board of the We Said Enough Foundation, whose mission is to eliminate bullying, harassment, and assault in the workplace.
Last but certainly not least, we were proud to recognize Mary Cranston and the tremendous contributions she has made to our Visa Board of Directors over the past decade. As Chair of our Audit and Risk Committee, Cranston oversees some of the most critical topics for Visa and the payments ecosystem with diligence and dedication. Mary is a thought leader, playing an active role in public forums and events for women in the workplace. She also brings that passion and perspective to the board room when discussing issues around women and diversity within Visa. Cranston is a retired senior partner of Pillsbury Winthrop Shaw Pittman LLP, an international law firm, served as chair and Chief Executive Officer of Pillsbury, and also currently serves as a director of the Chemours Company and MyoKardia Inc.
With our three Visa guests of honor in the spotlight, the evening was (unsurprisingly) a smashing success. After a private VIP reception for the honorees, approximately 900 guests gathered for an elegant dinner and an awards ceremony featuring dynamic speakers, moving videos and the world’s most inspiring – and efficient – acceptance speeches: each honoree shared their life motto or best advice in 10 words or less (think “Work hard, have fun, give back,” “Be the CEO your parents wanted you to marry,” and “Wear comfortable shoes!”). The piece de resistance: cocktails and dessert, of course.
Congratulations to Jolen, Adama, Mary and the rest of this year’s honorees. We’re proud to have strong, successful women trailblazers like you leading us into the future.
Learn more about how Visa is advancing diversity and inclusion, and see what our employees are up to
behind-the-scenes on our LifeAtVisa Instagram.