By Catriona Ting-Morton, Metro
This year’s Power Women list honors those making waves in their industries. With a historic mayoral race ahead of us this year, Cherelle Parker secured her place as the first woman to become the Democratic nominee for mayor. The Democratic primary itself was significant, defined by the many other trailblazing women candidates in the running. But it’s not just in politics that women are taking the lead. Within Philly’s famous sports teams, women are also at the top of their games – both on the game and business side. Looking to the art world, women are also making their mark, with influential roles at institutions like the Philadelphia Museum of Art and the Barnes Foundation. Whether they’re representing the public in state or federal office, leading world-renowned organizations, or bringing creative solutions to problems with their vital nonprofits, each of these women are making a few things clear: they’re powerful, they’re multi-talented, and they’re here to take Philly into the future.
President and CEO, JEVS Human Services
Cynthia F. Figueroa is the president and CEO of JEVS Human Services. Cynthia is a dynamic leader with 25 years of experience in the government and non-profit human service sectors. She builds high-performing, diverse teams, and develops outcome-based programs and services. She is also a creative problem-solver, a staunch advocate for vulnerable communities, and skilled at leading effective collaborations. Prior to JEVS, Cynthia was City of Philadelphia Deputy Mayor, Office of Children and Families.
Have there been any recent strides for gender equity in your industry?
The social services sector has a large representation of women. Senior leadership does not always reflect this. I was excited to join JEVS Human Services as its first woman and ethnic minority CEO since its founding in 1941. One of my early activities was a gender pay equity study. Using data, we assessed and made adjustments that bring equity. In the Philadelphia region, the gap between women and men is 18%. We brought JEVS to 5.6%.
What more do you think needs to be done to support women in Philadelphia?
Women must be present in all levels of government leadership as well as in the private sector – both as staff executive leadership and in the boardroom. Plus, we need to create career pathways for women that allow them to support their families. Another way we can support women in the workplace is by ensuring benefits include maternity leave and healthcare, and having the flexibility to accommodate child-rearing responsibilities.
Which women have paved the way for you?
I’ve been incredibly fortunate to have numerous women pave the way for me. Professionally, I’m grateful for Alba Martinez, Carol Tracy, Sharmaine Matlock Turner, and Charisse Lillie. They have supported me throughout my career with expert advice and guidance. Their advice and mentorship have been invaluable. Personally, my mother and my sisters paved the way for me. They demonstrated how to lead with sincerity and heart.