GSNNJ hosted first-ever hybrid gala event to recognize women leaders who exemplify the values of Girl Scouting
Riverdale, N.J. – June 9, 2021 – Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey (GSNNJ), the preeminent leadership development organization for girls, honored four women who have made a substantial impact on their communities and industries and serve as positive role models for girls at the 41st Annual Women of Achievement event on June 6, 2021 at Lake Rickabear Camp, in Kinnelon, NJ.
This year’s honorees included women leaders from various industries and backgrounds from across northern New Jersey:
Kay Fernandez, Global DX Branding & Senior Vice President, Marketing, Konica Minolta Business Solutions, U.S.A., Inc., recipient of the Women of Achievement Award- Franklin Lakes, NJ resident Fernandez leads the creation of innovative marketing strategies for Konica Minolta Business Solutions as a member of the executive team. Through digital disruption, Fernandez works to improve the value Konica Minolta delivers to customers, partners and employees. She is an advocate of women in the workplace and established the Step Forward Program at Konica Minolta to inspire women in professional excellence. The program is open to all employees, specifically helping women develop leadership skills and men to understand how they can impact change. Since its inception, the company has seen a 16% increase in women executive managers and a 33% increase in women mid-level managers.
Fernandez didn’t have the opportunity to join Girl Scouts when she was young, so it was important to her that all three of her daughters became members. Fernandez volunteered as a troop leader for all three of her girls and encourages other women to become leaders and volunteers to be role models for girls in their communities. She also serves as Board Chair for Books for Kids, a New York based non-profit, promoting literacy among preschool-aged children in under-resourced communities. Fernandez also sits on the board of the YWCA of Northern New Jersey, working to eliminate racism and empower women, and is on the Ocean Council at Oceana, helping to save the oceans and feed the world.
Donna Watridge, RN, BSN, MBA, CCRN-K, Chief Nursing Officer, Atlantic Health System’s Hackettstown Medical Center and Newton Medical Center, recipient of the Women of Achievement Award- Readington Township resident Watridge is one of New Jersey’s healthcare heroes who put her life on the line during the COVID-19 pandemic. For nearly thirty years she has been a dedicated health care provider, keeping the health and safety of her patients and community as the top priority. Watridge leads site operations, including Nursing, Surgical Services, Emergency Services, Patient Experience for Atlantic Health System’s Hackettstown Medical Center and Newton Medical Center where she oversees a team of 1,786 employees. A former Girl Scout herself, she has been a long-time supporter of advancing young girls and women and understands the importance of building girls with courage, confidence and character, especially in today’s environment. She credits character and authenticity to her success and ability to lead during such a trying and emotional time for her team and community.
During her tenure with Atlantic Health System, Watridge successfully implemented several new programs, including sports cardiology, cardio-oncology, heart valve, hypertrophic cardiomyopathy, and bariatric concierge. Her commitment to excellence in patient care is demonstrated by the many accolades earned by Hackettstown and Newton medical centers. As a member of the Organization of Nurse Leaders New Jersey, American College of Cardiologists, and American Association of Critical-Care Nurses, Watridge has been a national voice on medication reconciliation and best nursing management practices.
Nicole Licciardi, Chief of Staff, Mars, Inc., recipient of the Elinor J. Ferdon Young Woman of Promise Award- Licciardi, a resident of Roxbury, NJ, is a user-centric digital leader with an entrepreneurial spirit who has the vision to design a more empathetic world. As the Chief of Staff and an integral member of the Digital Leadership Team for Mars, Inc., she is responsible for managing and overseeing special projects and initiatives related to digital exploration and acceleration. Licciardi is a true entrepreneur at heart, and her mission is to lead and accelerate purpose-driven user experiences through design and digital.
Licciardi understands first-hand the importance of the all-girl experience Girl Scouts offers its members. Her all-girl learning experience in primary and high school offered her a supportive environment that allowed her to build the confidence she needed to be her own advocate when she studied Information Technology Management at Seton Hall University and was one of two women in her graduating class. Licciardi graduated from Seton Hall with degrees in Graphic Design and Information Technology Management. She currently volunteers as a mentor with the University and with the non-profit organization Girls Who Code, where she is working to build a strong network of female leaders who are eager to help close the gender gap. Most recently, she has represented Mars as a #WomanInSTEM and has a strong drive to educate and empower young women to get more involved in the field of technology.
Erika Liles, GSNNJ volunteer and troop leader, recipient of the Mitzi Golbek Spirit of Girl Scouting Award- Cresskill, NJ resident Liles is an entrepreneur and philanthropist. Prior to becoming an entrepreneur, Liles worked over a decade in leadership in medical device sales and marketing at Johnson & Johnson.
Liles made some of her favorite childhood memories as a Girl Scout Brownie and Junior with her mother as a troop leader. It was this experience that inspired her to become a troop leader herself. She embodies the example set by her mother and continues to represent the Girl Scout ideals to help others and improve the world. Liles is not only a committed leader of her daughters’ Daisy and Junior troops, but she has built a strong and diverse community of K-5 Girl Scouts troops across northern Bergen county that has allowed girls, and their parents, to grow and make connections outside of their school circles. She is passionate about social justice in the education of girls that has led her to create engaging programming focused on civic advocacy and STEM education that offers a unique value to both girls and their parents. This includes troop participation in a premiere national robotics competition.
Liles continues to pay it forward by recruiting and helping to train new leaders within her service unit. Both of her troops have earned The Journey Summit Pin, the highest award that a Girl Scout can earn as a Daisy and Brownie. Her civic works extends beyond Girl Scouts, she is an active member of The Links, Incorporated, Jack & Jill of America, Incorporated, and Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated.
“We were honored to recognize Kay, Donna, Nicole and Erika as our Women of Achievement recipients for 2021 at our first ever hybrid gala,” said Betty Garger, President and CEO of Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey. “Despite the challenges of 2020, our honorees have remained committed to advancing the lives of girls and women in our local community and beyond. We could not think of four better role models in leadership for our Girl Scouts this year.”
For the past 41 years, Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey’s has celebrated extraordinary local women leaders for their personal and professional accomplishments at the annual Women of Achievement gala. This year’s program theme was Invest in Girls. Change the World. Over 130 guests gathered in-person along the shores of Lake Rickabear or virtually to support this year’s honorees. In-person attendees were able to explore the different areas of the camp throughout the beautiful June afternoon and enjoy Mediterranean fare and Girl Scout cookie-inspired cocktails and desserts. GSNNJ’s Media Girls were on hand to welcome guests, conduct live interviews with the honorees, and showcase the way Girl Scouting has positively impacted their lives.
This year’s major event sponsors included Atlantic Health System, BD, Kearny Bank, Konica Minolta, the Liles Family and 300 Entertainment, Lakeland Bank, UPS, IT Radix, Inserra Supermarkets, and If You Care. Proceeds from Women of Achievement provide opportunities for girls to participate in girl-led programming such as STEM, outdoors, financial literacy, civic advocacy, and healthy living; recruit volunteers and provide them with training and the tools needed to engage and mentor girls; give access to age-appropriate materials, activities, and resources to inspire girls; and reach more girls by providing scholarships and financial assistance to those in need. Donations can still be made to Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey by visiting https://www.gsnnj.org/en/donate/support-girl-scouts.html.
About Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey
Girl Scouts of the USA is the preeminent leadership development organization for girls. With programs from coast-to-coast and across the globe, Girl Scouts offers every girl a chance to practice a lifetime of leadership, adventure, and success in a safe, no-limits place designed for and by girls. The Girl Scout Leadership Experience is a one-of-a-kind leadership development program that builds girls of courage, confidence, and character, who make the world a better place.
Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey serves girls ages 5-18 in Bergen, Morris, Passaic, Sussex, and northern Warren counties, bringing the Girl Scout Leadership Experience to over 24,000 girls and nearly 13,000 adult members. Girl Scouts of Northern New Jersey is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive environment for every girl and her family.
To learn more about the GSNNJ or to volunteer, reconnect, donate, or join, visit www.gsnnj.org and stay connected by following GSNNJ on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, and Twitter.