“Our Success is How We Are Able to Lead”: Congressional Award Foundation Hosts Women in Leadership Panel for Gold Medalists


Rachel Mallory, Manager of Corporate Partnerships


October 7, 2020

Washington, DC

Last Saturday, The Congressional Award Foundation hosted an interactive “Women in Leadership” Panel as part of the first-ever virtual Gold Medal Ceremony, which honored 478 incredible young leaders with the highest recognition bestowed by Congress.

The panel was moderated by Sanyin Siang, Founding Executive Director of the Coach K Leadership and Ethics Center (COLE), who led a thoughtful discussion with experienced government and industry leaders, including:

  • Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Representing Texas’ 18th Congressional District
  • Karen Gally, Otsuka
  • Kerry McLean, Intuit
  • Keira Lombardo, Smithfield Foods

Building confidence and fostering curiosity were highlights of the discussion. Attendees were also given the opportunity to ask their own questions related to leadership.

“Our success is how we are able to lead, guide, comfort, and get through it on the other side – so many of our problems today are because people do not understand each other,” shared Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, in a powerful statement. She encouraged the Gold Medalists to be the champions of seeing people from their eyes to help solve problems and be the solution.

Panelists shared how they have overcome fear when finding their voice in the workplace. Keira Lombardo, who serves as Executive Vice President of Corporate Affairs and Compliance for Smithfield Foods, gave this advice, “If you’re not naturally confident, I found that the only way to get through it is to push yourself to swallow your fear and deliver your message.”

How can young leaders advance in the workplace? “Don’t be afraid to ask for what you want. Be more assertive than you think you should be,” shared Karen Galley, Vice President & General Counsel for Otsuka, a pharmaceutical company.

“Engage fully with everything you do with 100% curiosity,” said Kerry McLean, who leads Intuit’s legal and global corporate affairs teams as they work to support Intuit’s mission of powering prosperity around the world. “Ask a lot of questions, don’t worry so much about what others think.”

The Congressional Award Foundation also announced their partnership with Intuit, maker of TurboTax, QuickBooks, and Mint, to develop their Personal Finance Program to help youth own their financial future while earning hours towards their Congressional Award Personal Development goal. The program is open to all youth regardless of ability, circumstance, and socioeconomic status.

The virtual Gold Medal Ceremony, usually held in person at The Capitol Visitor Center, is one of several steps taken by The Congressional Award Foundation to support and celebrate America’s youth during the pandemic. To learn more about some of the other ways The Congressional Award has responded to the pandemic and upcoming programs and updates, visit us at our website.

For reporters working on national stories and/or members of TV, radio, new media broadcasting:

Bethie Woodall, Director of Events & Strategic Communications


Erica Heyse, National Director


For reporters working on local stories, partner organization/congressional staff inquiries, or general information:

Matt Tick, Program Director