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Power
Forum 2016

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The second Moves Power Forum was held at the auditorium of Steinway & Sons’ new Manhattan showroom. Keynote speaker SUNY Chancellor Nancy Zimpher introduced the moderator for the night Univision’s Maria Elena Salinas for a program of vigorous debate with Panelists Ojinika Obiekwe, Jessica Rodriguez, Col. Irene Zoppi and Alsia Reiner who took questions from invited guests including students from all the NY universities on topics incliuding politics, science, business, the media and the arts.  

Ch. Nancy Zimpher

Chancellor Nancy Zimpher is the first woman to serve as Chancellor of the State University of New York. Before that, she was The Ohio State University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee’s first female chancellor and was University of Cincinnati State University of New York’s first female president. “I’ve always stepped back and asked myself what is the right thing to do here? Unfortunately, there are some consequences for doing the right thing.” Asking for help was also one of the best decisions she’s made in her career. “ You’ve got to be a bit gutsy, but ask for help. I’m fortunate to have a great team around me. No one leads alone from the President of the United States to the office manager everybody has a team, and I think your team gives you the kind of feedback that helps your persist.” As a leader, she advocates for more opportunities not only for women but other marginalized communities. “The statistics would suggest that we have a huge imbalance in the number of women running for public office,” she says. “The pace of change is way too slow. We have to provide more opportunities for women and people who are of color or ethnic diversity, is to get in the public game and we have to as those who are in it have to help those who want to get it.” She remains true to her word and intends to leave a legacy of that of someone that provided key opportunities to those in need. “Education is the great equalizer. It is the key to every other social problem we have and as someone leading the comprehensive public system. That’s my goal is providing every opportunity for everyone. Particularly for those less fortunate.”

Marìa Elena Salinas

Maria Elena Salinas has not only proven herself to be a capable force in journalism, as she’s interviewed every U.S. president since Jimmy Carter, covered the Iraq war and the conflict in South America, but she continues to be a beloved presence as a news anchor for Univision. In a field of split second decisions, Salinas describes her process as, “You have to get a hold of yourself and go into survival instinct,” she says. “Because  your decision could affect you and those around, but that’s when we are the strongest of the most focused.” When addressing obstacles for women in leadership, “Sexism is probably the number one challenge,” she says. “Women still have to work twice as hard to get half of the recognition.” With over thirty years in the field, her path to success was not easy, but she remained rooted in her childhood values to persevere. “I think some of the challenges that  I encountered earlier in my career didn’t have as much to do with my gender as to the fact I’m a minority,” she says. “In my case, I’m a double minority. I worked three times as hard, but I grew up in a home with a working mother who was a seamstress. She was an example of someone with a very strong work ethic, so if I if I had to go above and beyond the call of duty and work extra hours I would.” Her influence in the Latino community is immeasurable, as she’s the face for breaking news in the largest Spanish network in the world. She continues to love her audience as much as they’ve loved her. “It wasn’t just a job in Spanish,” she says. “My job as a news anchor is for the Latino community, which I’m also part of. I knew that the network was making a difference in their lives. They have made a difference in me too. I wouldn’t be here without our viewers.”

Ojinika Obiekwe

Ojinika Obiekwe is a multiple Emmy-nominated journalist, with a career in television that has spanned more than a decade. “I do go through different emotions, depending on the day,” she says. “But in general, when facing adversity. I just don’t stress. I see that adversity as a life lesson, and I never dwell on it, because everything always works out in the end.”  Currently a news anchor at PIX11,  Obiekwe is enjoying her hard work and success. “My job now is a dream, and I love it. I’m happy that I’m creating an impact by doing what I love and being great at it.” She lives her life in positivity, despite some of the harrowing aspects of her childhood. It’s fueled her advocacy against women’s domestic violence. “Having grown up in a household where there’s physical and emotional abuse makes me more passionate about that,” she says. “It’s a problem that shouldn’t exist no matter what part of the world you live in.”

Jessica Rodriguez

Jessica Rodriguez is the Chief Marketing Officer of Univision Communications Inc.and serves as its Executive Vice President. She advocates for women to gain the support that they need in their rise towards success. “We know that women hold disproportionate responsibility when it comes to tending to their families. The more we can help ease some of that burden, the more women will continue to rise the ranks and not drop out of the workforce.”  In her future advocacy efforts, she’d like to pay it forward. “I work every day to pay it forward. My best decision to date was getting an MBA from Stanford University. It clearly opened incredible doors for me professionally, but personally, it changed me because it allowed me for the first time in my life to focus on my dreams and goals. My mom had a great saying: ‘Tiempo es Oro’ or time is gold. I want to increase access to information by showing the underprivileged in our community that anything is possible.”

Col. Irene  Zoppi 

Col. Irene Zoppi has had an incredibly impressive and highly decorated career in the military. She’s a woman who’s faced multiple obstacles and is often in the face of danger. “A challenge ignites a motivational force inside of me.” She mentally gets through it by changing her perspective. “Acculturating to the United States was hard for me, but adversity is not adversity if your mind powerfully translates it as positive,” she says. Zoppi has been an incredible inspiration for not only women but also for the Latino community when she was recognized as a Latina of Influence by Hispanic Lifestyle in 2015. “Breaking a barrier is not simple,” she says. “Women may face challenges when pursuing certain jobs, but advocating for key strategic roles of women in high-level positions in the following key areas: environment, government, politics, diplomacy, and military. I believe these are instrumental positions of great purpose.”

Alysia Reiner

Alysia Reiner is a film and tv actress, who’s known for playing the notorious prison warden in Orange is The New Black. She’s already gaining critical acclaim for her most recent performance in her new film, Equity, an electrifying drama about the women of Wall Street. The experience itself has inspired her perspective about women’s advocacy. “I care about so many women issues,” she says. “But at this moment, having just made Equity I am most fascinated by not only the issue of equal pay for women but how women treat each other, the politics of those relationships in the workplace and the ripple effect of that in the world.” When looking at the own trajectory of her success, Renier has a few things that she would reconsider in hindsight. “I wish I knew that worry is the biggest waste in the world,” she says. “ Some say that worry is a ‘negative prayer.’ If you are going to assume something, why not assume things are going to be amazing?”