Yvonne Cook at Women's Summit event holding program that says "The Power of Diversity"

Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation and Highmark Health VP – Community Health and Programs, introduces the Women’s Summit: Power of Diversity event.

Highmark Health hosted its first Women’s Summit Series event, The Power of Diversity, in 2018 at the Heinz Field Champions Club.

The inaugural event brought together senior leaders at some of western Pennsylvania’s largest and most influential businesses to discuss equity and opportunity in the workplace for women and engage in meaningful conversation around how businesses and leaders can elevate women and diversity across all sectors and industries in the region.

Yvonne Cook, president of the Highmark Foundation and Highmark Health VP – Community Health and Programs, introduced the event. She also served as co-moderator with Melanie Harrington, president and CEO, Vibrant Pittsburgh, for a panel discussion on women in the workplace.

The panel discussion was followed by a “fireside chat” between Highmark Health COO Karen Hanlon, Highmark SVP – Health Plan Operations Patricia Howard, and Mellody Hobson, president of Ariel Investments and Starbucks vice chair. An expert in financial literacy and community outreach, Hobson is a prominent national speaker and advocate on the topic of diversity and women in the workplace. Her “Color blind or color brave?” TED talk has had more than 600,000 views.

“With this series, our goal is to spark the ideas, collaboration, and action necessary to build a more inclusive workplace and region,” explains Dr. Lonie Haynes, vice president of diversity and inclusion, Highmark Health. “When we’re inclusive, companies not only perform better, but our whole city and talent pool becomes better.”

Concluding the event, Deb Rice-Johnson, president, Highmark Inc., was awarded the first Highmark Health Sara Oliver-Carter Award. Named after Highmark’s first diversity officer, the Sara Oliver-Carter Award honors a leader who sets standards and priorities around diversity and inclusion, who is a sponsor and champion to diverse individuals, and who has gone above and beyond to create a more inclusive workforce, marketplace, and community.

The highlights below will give you a small taste of this first event’s thought-provoking dialogue and powerful messages on how individuals and corporations can take responsibility in shaping a more inclusive workplace, marketplace, and community. Additional Women’s Summit events are in the works for 2019!

Women in the Workplace, Equity, and Opportunity


  • Cindy Donohoe, chief marketing officer, Highmark Health
  • Titina Ott, senior vice president of customer operations, HM Health Solutions
  • Marsha Jones, executive vice president and chief diversity officer, PNC Financial Services Group
  • Amanda Green Hawkins, associate counsel, United Steelworkers Union


Work-Life Balance

Titina Ott, SVP of customer operations at HM Health Solutions, addresses a question about balancing time between your employer, your family, and your personal interests.

Talking with Male Colleagues

Highmark Health chief marketing officer Cindy Donohoe shares her thoughts on helping male colleagues to be aware of unconscious bias and how to approach a male mentor or sponsor.

Fireside Chat with Mellody Hobson

Keynote Guest:

  • Mellody Hobson Lucas is president of Ariel Investments, a Chicago-based investment firm that manages over $13 billion in assets and is one of the largest African American-owned money management and mutual fund companies in the United States. She is a regular contributor on financial issues on CBS This Morning and a spokesperson for the annual Ariel/Schwab Black Investor Survey. She is the former chairman of DreamWorks Animation, negotiating the acquisition of DreamWorks Animation SKG, Inc., by NBCUniversal in 2016. Hobson serves on the board of many organizations, including JPMorgan Chase & Co., the Chicago Public Education Fund, the Lucas Museum of Narrative Art and the Sundance Institute. She is also vice chair of the Starbucks Corporation. Hobson has been acclaimed in Time’s 2015 Time 100 List, the magazine’s annual list of the one hundred most influential people in the world. She was named to head the Economic Club of Chicago in 2017, the first African-American woman to do so.


“Do or do not, there is no try.”

Mellody Hobson Lucas is “married to Yoda’s dad” (George Lucas) — and explains the importance of one of Yoda’s best-known proverbs when it comes to diversity and inclusion.

The Courage to Do the Right Thing

Mellody Hobson responds to Patricia Howard’s thoughts on the commitment, courage and challenges in taking diversity and inclusion to a higher level.

How Organizational Leaders Can Promote Women in the Workforce

Karen Hanlon invites Mellody Hobson’s thoughts on how organizational leaders can best help women in the workforce to succeed.