Hosted by All Women Empowered (AWE), the program takes a deep dive into the adversities women are facing due to COVID-19 while exploring the stories of extraordinary women paving the way for others.

Formerly known as the Orlando Regional Women’s Initiatives Task Force, All Women Empowered (AWE) hosted its inaugural program, Empowering Women in Times of Challenge and Change, on Wednesday, September 9.

An engaging conversation about empowering women in times of challenge and change, the webinar featured an in-depth panel discussion with moderator Anne Godfrey, chief executive of GS1 UK, and special guests Angela Alban, president and CEO of SIMETRI, Inc., Christi Ashby, editor and publisher of Orange Appeal magazine, Karen Skyers, director of State Government Affairs at Charter Communications, and Shainna Ali, PhD, LMHC, NCC, licensed mental health counselor and educator at Integrated Counseling Solutions, LLC.

Each expert focused on the adversities women are facing due to COVID-19, while stressing the importance of mental health and wellness, women’s entrepreneurship, and diversity and inclusion for women in the workplace. Attendees also had the opportunity to explore the stories of extraordinary women paving the way for others.

“Women’s initiatives are an important part of the work we do at the U.S. Chamber,” said Ashley Wilson, vice president of Congressional and Public Affairs and executive director of Women Taking the Lead for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce.

“We are thrilled to see other Chambers like the Orlando Regional Chamber working to advance women in their region. I had the pleasure of joining this program. The panel did an outstanding job, and I found the discussion inspirational and timely.”

Ashley Wilson, vice president of Congressional and Public Affairs and executive director of Women Taking the Lead for the U.S. Chamber of Commerce

All Women Empowered (AWE) is comprised of women and men, private, public, and nonprofit partners working to unify our community resources into a strategically coordinated campaign to propel women forward.

Guest Speakers

Anne Godfrey | Moderator
Chief Executive, GS1 UK
Anne Godfrey was appointed Chief Executive of GS1 UK in August 2020. GS1 is a 115 strong international membership organisation which keeps consumers informed and protected through the global language of data. 

Specializing in change management within the not-for-profit space, she has a proven track record of delivering challenging targets while harnessing the skills, knowledge and passion of members, staff and external stakeholders. 

Previously, Anne held leadership roles in a diverse range of membership organisations including the Chartered Institute of Environmental Health (CIEH) and Chartered Institute of Marketing (CIM), where she was Chief Executive, the Law Society, where she was Director of Commercial and Membership Services, and the CBI where she was Commercial & Marketing Director. 

Anne’s earlier career in academic and professional publishing included senior sales, marketing and product development roles for publishers including Prentice Hall and Thomson Reuters. She has a first-class honors degree from Glasgow University and a postgraduate diploma in law from Nottingham Law School. 

Angela Alban
President & CEO, SIMETRI, Inc.
Angela M. Albán is president and chief operating officer of SIMETRI, Inc., an Orlando-based firm that develops innovative solutions for medical training through art and science.

Founded by Angela in 2009, SIMETRI conceptualizes, designs and produces medical training devices to improve the performance of military personnel, as well as physicians, nurses and first responders. As a Central Floridian who became a U.S. citizen after moving from Colombia with her family at the age of five, Alban has dedicated herself to the growth and sustainment of the community she has called home for more than 35 years.

Angela began her career after graduating from Emory University with a Bachelor of Science in mathematics and computer science. While starting her professional career in the modeling and simulation industry, she completed her master’s degree in computer engineering from University of Central Florida.

These experiences included a wide range of disciplines, not only in her chosen academic field of engineering, but also in the design and production process, business development, and sales and marketing.

Angela leveraged the combination of these experiences and pursued her aspirations of growing a small technology firm from the ground up. SIMETRI is a woman-owned, minority-owned small business that is process driven, customer focused, and committed to results. As the mother of two children, ages 12 and 10, an influential part of Angela’s decision to welcome entrepreneurship and pursue SIMETRI was the flexibility it allowed her to be with them. It’s not unusual to have the children and their grandparents stop by the SIMETRI lab for a quick hello to mom and their extended SIMETRI family.

Along with her family and her business, Angela is very committed to the Central Florida community, and has dedicated herself to several special causes. Currently she serves on five boards: National Center for Simulation Board of Directors, United Cerebral Palsy of Central Florida Charter School Board and Board of Directors, the Samaritan Resource Center, Early Learning Coalition of Orange County, and Chair of the Orlando Regional Chamber Board of Directors.

Christi Ashby
Editor & Publisher, Orange Appeal
Christi Ashby is the editor and publisher of Orange Appeal, a magazine for women she founded in 2008 to create a sense of community and celebrate local women, their interests and non-profit organizations. Prior to that she developed Orlando Leisure and was the editor and publisher for nine years. She founded the Orlando Women’s Conference in 2011 with her daughter, Kate Slentz. In 2014 the company successfully launched Interior Appeal magazine to showcase the design and arts community. Published three times a year, the publication features interesting people, projects and exhibits.

The mission of her company, Appeal Media and Events Group, is to connect people with each other and their community. In the past 12 years, they have sent out more than 300 e-newsletters, each promoting nonprofit and charitable events. In addition, the company has donated more than $850,000 worth of print advertising to nonprofits.

A key collaboration is the nine-year partnership with the Association of Fundraising Professionals, Central Florida, to promote National Philanthropy Day and produce the official printed program for the day. Appeal Media donates a portion of ad sales back to AFP as well. On its active social media outlets, the company also promotes the good works of others.

Promoted as the biggest day for women, the Orlando Women’s Conference held each spring with more than 30 speakers, 35 exhibitors, keynote luncheon and lots of opportunities for networking promotes community leadership as well as entrepreneurial and personal growth. The 10th annual is scheduled for September 18, and more than 550 women attend each year. At monthly Orange Appeal luncheons – now virtual — various community and business leaders are invited to speak and share their message.

Christi is celebrating 34 years as a publishing and media professional this year having managed and operated more than 10 different national and regional publications. A proud graduate of the University of Florida College of Journalism, she was on the board of directors of the Florida Magazine Association for 12 years, serving as president of the organization twice.

She has assisted dozens of non-profit organizations and has served on the boards of Shepherd’s Hope (chair), the Central Florida Women’s League (board member 2011-present) and Orlando Ballet (vice-chair), the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Circle, Florida Hospital Foundation (chair) as well as the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts Circle. She recently joined the board of Support Our Scholars.

She was awarded the 2011 Media Award from H.O.P.E., 2010 Women’s Executive Council Achievement Award, 2011 Seminole State College Alumna of Distinction and the Women’s Resource Center Summit Award in 2015. Christi has been married to her husband Rob for 37 years and has two children, Nick and Kate, and four grandchildren.

Karen Skyers
Director, State Government Affairs, Charter Communications
Karen Skyers currently serves as Charter Communication’s (Spectrum) Director of State Government Affairs for the South Region, based out of Maitland, FL. This region encompasses six counties; from Osceola to Flagler. Prior to joining the Charter team, she served as the Director of Diversity & Inclusion for the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services.

After graduating from law school, Karen also worked as a Legislative Aide to Former Florida Democratic Leader Senator Arthenia L. Joyner and used her legal and communications skills to assist the Senator in shaping state policy by developing legislative proposals and implementing strategies to get them enacted into law. She assisted with issues such as budget conferences, redistricting and criminal laws. Her public service also includes workas a former public defender for Hillsborough County, where she developed skills at helping her clients navigate the criminal justice system.

Karen has experience as an independent contractor/lobbyist and worked as a government affairs consultant for Becker Lawyers where she represented clients’ interests before the Florida Legislature, researched, drafted and analyzed legislation, and educated government officials and corporate leaders on issues of importance before the legislature.

Originally from New York City, NY, Karen moved to Florida over 15 years ago, where she began her career in government with the Florida Department of Children & Families. Karen is the proud mother of three children and two grandchildren.

Shainna Ali, PhD, LMHC, NCC
Licensed Mental Health Counselor & Educator, Integrated Counseling Solutions, LLC
Dr. Shainna Ali is a mental health counselor, educator and advocate who is passionate about destigmatizing mental health counseling and helping individuals worldwide recognize the importance of fostering mental wellness. She is the author of The Self-Love Workbook & The Self-Love Workbook for Teens and shares mental health awareness on her Psychology Today-hosted blog, A Modern Mentality.

Dr. Shainna is the owner and operator of Integrated Counseling Solutions, LLC, a strengths-based clinical mental health and consulting practice located in downtown Orlando. She has been acknowledged for her efforts as a mental health advocate in outlets such as ABC, CBS, NPR, Washington Post and Insider, and she has been honored with the Association for Specialists in Group Work’s Al Dye Award, the Pete Fischer Humanitarian Award, and the 30 under 30 award by her alma mater University of Central Florida for her efforts in promoting mental wellness.

Presenting Sponsor and Women’s Initiatives Champion

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Program Sponsor

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